'From Kente to Kuba' Opens Friday

'From Kente to Kuba' Opens Friday

December 3, 2018

The International Quilt Museum will mark the opening of a new exhibition during First Friday from 4-7 p.m. on Dec. 7. 

“From Kente to Kuba: Stitched Textiles from West and Central Africa” will showcase recently acquired textiles and quilts from Ghana, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While not all works on view will be quilts, each will showcase related stitching techniques such as piecing and appliqué.
“The exhibition puts quiltmaking into a larger global context,” said Marin Hanson, curator of international collections. “It shows the relationship between what we are most familiar with, in terms of American quilts and quiltmaking, and links them with the larger world of textile creation. It also explains how they are significant textiles in their own right, within their own countries and in a cross-cultural context.”

This exhibition marks the first time the museum has shown a significant collection of works made on the African continent.

In conjunction with two forthcoming exhibitions—“Stitching the Transatlantic: Liberian Quilts from the John Singler Collection,” opening Jan. 18, and “Collecting and Recollecting: Contemporary Quilts in Western India,” which opens Feb. 22—the museum will explore the themes of migration and the African diaspora.

The pieces in “From Kente to Kuba” all hail from the regions of Africa that were most often exploited during the transatlantic slave trade and the “Stitching the Transatlantic” quilts represent a tradition that originated in America but now informs a longstanding Liberian practice. Additionally, in “Collecting and Recollecting” visitors will be introduced to several members of the Siddi ethnic group, who descended from Africans forced to migrate to western India as slaves or mercenary soldiers. 

Gaining a more holistic, multifaceted view of how African diaspora textiles relate to quilts is a major benefit of presenting multiple exhibitions with a unified theme.
“For me the theme of migration reinforces the motivation I have for studying quilts. Quilts, like migration, can facilitate human interaction – in other words, they can help people learn from and connect with each other,” Hanson said. “Migration is about movement and people mixing together. It isn’t always wonderful. Forced migration is one of the worst legacies of the human experience. But sometimes wonderful things happen when people come together. It’s important to learn about the good and the bad. And quilts can assist with absorbing those varied histories.”

“From Kente to Kuba” will be on display through May 12. Future programs surrounding the event include a multi-disciplinary panel discussion on April 5 and a trunk show on April 23.