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April 15, 2024

Exhibition opening at MSU Union Gallery

Afrofuturism & Quilts: Materializing Black Futures & Black Womxn’s Quilt Legacies

An exhibition exploring connections between Black futures and legacies through the medium of quilting is opening at the Michigan State University (MSU) Union Gallery from April 5 – July 31, 2024. "Entitled Afrofuturism & Quilts: Materializing Black Futures & Black Womxn’s Quilt Legacies," the exhibition draws inspiration from the themes of Afrofuturism, envisioning new realms for Black identity, culture, and society. Each quilt showcased in the exhibition serves as a powerful expression of the creators’ identities, experiences, beliefs, and aspirations for a liberated Afrofuture.

Liv Furman, both curator and contributor to the exhibition, remarked, “I’m honored to be part of this exhibition that celebrates the power and beauty of Black creativity. Through quilting, we materialize Black futures and offer glimpses into a world of boundless possibilities and collective flourishing.”

The exhibition features work by esteemed quiltmakers and scholars, including Diana Baird N’Diaye, curator, and founder of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s African American Craft Initiative. Proudly selected as one of four organizations to participate in the African American Craft Initiative in fall 2023, the MSU Museum is a sponsor of the Afrofuturism & Quilts exhibition. Additional, artists invited to show their work include April Shipp, Elka Stevens, Janda Lipker & Rebecca Lipker, Carole Lyles Shaw, Chiquita Whitfield, and Liv Furman.

The curation of the exhibition involved collaboration with MSU Museum curators Marsha MacDowell, Curator of Folk Arts and Quilt Studies, and Julian Chambliss, the Val Berryman Curator of History. Several quilts included in the exhibition are sourced from the MSU Museum collection.

MacDowell expressed, “The MSU Museum is proud to support preserving and celebrating Black quilting traditions for future generations. As curator, I’m committed to showcasing the power of quilting as a form of cultural expression and resistance. I’m thrilled to be part of this exhibition that amplifies the voices of Black quiltmakers and scholars.”

Accompanying the exhibition are various programs, including a virtual panel discussion with the artists on Tuesday, April 9 from 4:30 – 6:00PM and an opening reception scheduled for Friday, April 19 from 5:00 – 7:00PM.

The Afrofuturism & Quilts exhibition is made possible through the generous support of sponsors including the MSU Museum, the Quilt Index’s Black Diaspora Quilt History Project, MSU’s Department of African American & African Studies, MSU’s Department of Art, Art History and Design, Michigan Traditional Arts Program, and a Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant from the MSU Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion. Notably, the Quilt Index’s Black Diaspora Quilt History Project, a project of MSU’s Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, underscoring the significance of this initiative in preserving and celebrating Black quilting traditions.

This story originally appeared on the MSU Museum website. 

By: Stephanie Palagyi