Story Quilts Exhibition to
Open at Middlebury College Museum of Art Jan. 9

Several Events to Take Place in
Conjunction with the Exhibition

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—From Jan. 9 through
June 3, the Middlebury College Museum of Art will present an
exhibition titled Story Quilts: Voices in Cloth. First made in the
18th century, story quilts present visual narratives that parallel
the art of storytelling. Traditionally, story quilts focus on the
themes of domestic life and family histories, biblical sagas, and
historic events. More recently, artists have embraced the story quilt
format to reestablish a link with history, express personal views and
concerns, or recount feminist narratives. Story Quilts: Voices in
Cloth features story quilts by two contemporary African-American
artists, Peggie L. Hartwell and Faith Ringgold, as well as two
historic narrative quilts from the Shelburne Museum.

The exhibition opens with two
19th-century quilts. An 1876 Appliqued and Pieced Quilt includes two
blocks celebrating the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in
addition to scenes of home life and biblical sagas. Pieced Quilt,
Figurative Mosaic Pattern, circa 1880-1920, includes two
African-American figures. As was common at the time, the design
probably evolved from a popular cross-stitch manual. The works are on
loan from the Shelburne Museum, which has one of the most significant
collections of historic quilts in the country.

The exhibition also features three
recent quilts by Peggie L. Hartwell, a member of the Women of Color
Quilting Network. Ode to Harriet Powers, 1995, pays tribute to a
celebrated 19th-century quilter. Six vignettes recall Powers’
favorite themes, including the crucifixion of Christ, Moses healing
the children, and Jonah and the whale. Hartwell’s The Storyteller,
1996, was inspired by the memory of her grandfather. Described as a
consummate storyteller, capable of mesmerizing his audience, William
Tyler Sr. is depicted with vivid colors that parallel the richness of
his stories. In the same vein, The Home-Going of Rosie Lee Hartwell
Memorial Quilt, 2000, is a moving and bittersweet celebration of the
artist’s mother’s life following her passing.

Three important story quilts by
Faith Ringgold, the celebrated artist and best-selling author of
children’s books, are also included. Tar Beach 2, 1990, recounts the
allegorical adventures of young Cassie Louise Lightfoot, one of
Ringgold’s alter egos, in 1930s Harlem. After a family picnic on the
roof of a brownstone-the tar beach-Cassie dreams she can fly around
the city. The French Collection, Part I: #2, Wedding on the Seine,
1991, presents the story of the fictional artist Willia Marie Simone,
who flees her own wedding ceremony because she foresees marriage
interfering with her dream of becoming an artist. Originally
conceived as a performance piece, The Bitter Nest Part 5: Homecoming,
1998, is the culmination of a series chronicling the struggles and
triumphs of fictional characters CeeCee and her daughter Cecilia over
several decades.

Several activities, all of which are
free and open to the public, will be offered in conjunction with the

· Slide Lecture and Book
Signing: On Sunday, Jan. 21, Middlebury College Twilight Scholar
Faith Ringgold will present a slide lecture entitled “Story Quilts
and Children’s Books,” from 2-4 p.m. in the Concert Hall in the
Center for the Arts. A book signing will follow at 4:30 p.m.

· Children’s Museum Event: On
Saturday, Feb. 17, “Explore Story Quilts by Faith Ringgold,” a free,
drop-in program for children ages 5-12 and accompanying adults, will
be offered in the Museum from 12:30-1:30 p.m. To make reservations,
contact Sandi Olivo at (802) 443-2248.

· Gallery Talk: Artist Peggie
L. Hartwell will present a gallery talk about story quilts on Sunday,
March 11, at 2 p.m. in the Museum.

The Middlebury College Museum of Art
and the Concert Hall are located in the Center for the Arts on South
Main Street (Route 30) in Middlebury, Vt. Admission is free at all
times. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and
weekends, noon-5 p.m. The Museum is closed on Mondays. For more
information, contact Tony Lewis, acting assistant director of the
Middlebury College Museum of Art, at (802) 443-5252.