University of Rochester

EVENT: Research seminar on quilts and African-American identity by Janet Catherine Berlo, professor of art history and visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester

TIME, DATE, AND PLACE: Noon Thursday, March 24, in the Gamble Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester’s River Campus

ADMISSION: Free and open to the University community. Lunch will be provided and reservations can be made to colr@mail.rochester.edu or x5-8318 by March 21.

March 14, 2005

Art historian Janet Catherine Berlo, whose current research focuses on quilt history, folk art, and the construction of “otherness” in American culture, will discuss two famous 19th-century quilts made by African-American quilter Harriet Powers at noon Thursday, March 24, at the University of Rochester.

The Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies Research Seminar by Berlo, professor of art history and co-director of the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University, is co-sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Institute and the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, and is free and open to the University community. It will be held in the Gamble Room of Rush Rhees Library on the River Campus.

Her talk, titled “Quilt History, American History, and African-American Identity Politics: The Case of Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilts,” will examine two of the best known 19th-century American quilts made by ex-slave Harriet Powers in the 1890s. One is in the Smithsonian Institution, the other in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Berlo will offer an interpretation of these objects that differs from the standard view that has placed them as evidence of a trans-Atlantic tradition of African textile art. She will discuss their place in a late 19th-century American visual culture shared by quilters both black and white.

Berlo’s recent books include Wild by Design: 200 Years of Innovation and Artistry in American Quilts, (with Patricia Crews, University of Washington Press, 2003); Quilting Lessons (University of Nebraska Press, 2001); Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk’s Vision of a Lakota World (George Braziller Books, 2000); and Native North American Art (with Ruth Phillips, Oxford University Press, 1998).

Lunch will be provided and reservations can be made to colr@mail.rochester.edu or by contacting the Susan B. Anthony Institute by March 21 at (585) 275-8318.




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