I went downtown yesterday to see the “Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora” exhibit at the Textile Museum and was absolutely blown away! There was such an incredible variety of stellar work it was hard to decide what to look at next. The term “diaspora” reflects “the dispersion of people from an established ancestral homeland” and the artwork ranged from pieces that were extremely personal to those that commented on larger social issues. There are 39 pieces in the exhibit, ranging from art quilts that hang on the wall to more sculptural installations.
Many of the pieces were not strictly “quilts”–like Bundles by Cheryl Gerhart at left, or Cotton, Triangular Trade by Susan Lenz hanging in the upper gallery image above. Cheryl’s piece referenced the migration of Native Americans who carried their possessions on willow branches from place to place. And Susan’s is a vertical installation of numerous bolls of cotton, referencing slavery.
Another piece that really spoke to me–also not technically a “quilt” was Home is Where the Army Sends Us by Kristin La Flamme. She wrote about the piece here in her blog and her family’s personal experience with frequent moves for her husband’s job in the Army.
There was also a very moving piece by Denise Oyama Miller about her extended family’s migration from Japan to the United States.
The museum moved to a new location at George Washington University and reopened last year, but this was the first time I had been able to get there. The Diaspora exhibit was put on in collaboration with Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), of which I am a member, and you can read more about it on their website too. There is also a slideshow there of all the pieces in the exhibit.
If you’re anywhere near the DC area, make time to see this exhibit–it’s outstanding!
The show is up until September 4, 2016. I hope I’ll have another chance to see it before it closes.