Opening at the James Museum
This first-of-its-kind-exhibition explores Black history in the West with a timeline of pictorial quilts. Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West explores the path of Black history in the West with a timeline of original pictorial quilts. These colorful, richly detailed works of art chronicle the arrival of Africans in the American West in 1528 all the way through the Civil Rights Movement, bringing to life forgotten stories and lesser-known chapters in our shared history. Dispelling the myth that Black people in the old West were mostly cowboys, Black Pioneers: Legacy in the
American West, reveals the breadth of their occupations and achievements in society, religion, education, and the arts.
Quilts were chosen as the visual medium for this exhibition because they function to highlight the intersections of African Americans in the Western Frontier
while informing others about the art form and its important role in African American history. This exhibition is organized by The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi,curator, historian and artist. The 50 quilts have been created by the Women of Color Quilters Network especially for this exhibition.
Quilts and quilt making are important to America and Black culture in particular, because the art form was historically one of the few mediums accessible to
marginalized groups to tell their own story, to provide warmth for their families, and to empower them with a voice through cloth,” said Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi.
For African American women quilts have always been at the core of artistic expression, taking form in the social, economic, and spiritual lives of the women who make them. Founded by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi in 1985, Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) is a non-profit national organization whose mission is to educate, preserve, exhibit, promote and document quilts made by African Americans.
The James Museum is proud to put forth an exhibition that explores the Black experience in the American West,” said Executive Director of The James Museum Laura Hine.
“These quilts and the stories they tell embody one of our core values; to amplify all voices of the American West, including those not often found at the forefront. We are so
grateful to Dr. Mazloomi and the Women of Color Quilters Network for partnering with us to bring this vision to life.”
The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art at 150 Central Avenue, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information,
call 727.892.4200 or visit www.thejamesmuseum.org.
About The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art:
The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art provides experiences that inspire human connection and transformation through art depicting the peoples, landscapes, and history of the American West, and wildlife of the world. More than 400 premiere works of art including sculpture, paintings and jewelry are on display in the museum’s 26,000 square feet of gallery space. The museum engages the community through programs and educational opportunities, for all ages, that bring our history to life and amplify voices that are not often at the
forefront of mainstream Western art. When The James Museum opened in April 2018 it became one of the newest additions to St. Petersburg’s thriving arts community.
About Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi:
Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi’s quilts have been exhibited extensively in venues such as the Mint Museum, American Folk Art Museum in New York City, National Civil Rights Museum, Museum of Art and Design, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Her own quilts have been included in over 74 exhibits and she herself has curated 21 extensive exhibits of quilts made by members of the Women of Color Quilters Network, many of them traveling exhibits. Among the many exhibitions she has curated is Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations, which visually surveys 400 years of African American history. It is the largest travel exhibit of African American quilts ever mounted. In 2014 Mazloomi, along with co-curator Dr. Marsha MacDowell of Michigan State University Museum, presented an exhibition to honor Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Feature image at top cropped to fit: Black Pioneers: Legacy In The American West Connie Horne, Black Miners, 2021 by Connie Horne. All other photos are provided by artist as listed. Content courtesy of the James Museum.