The March 24 installment in Penn State Harrisburg’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture Series will feature a scholar’s look at quilters in the African American community.
Patricia Turner, author of Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters, will deliver her free public lecture at 6:30 p.m. in the Gallery Lounge of Olmsted Building on campus.
Vice provost of undergraduate studies and a faculty member in the African and African American Studies programs at the University of California-Davis, Turner is also the author of Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America, Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture, and I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African American Culture.
In Crafted Lives Turner explores the culture and recent history of African Americans through the creations and wisdom of nine quilters. She profiles quilters who exemplify the range of black women and men dedicated to the making of quilts and she shows how their craftwork established order and meaning in their lives. The artisans comprise eight women and one man, ranging from teenagers to octogenarians, representing an array of education and income levels, and living across the U.S., including Alaska.
Turner also probes how African American quilts and quilters have been depicted, discussed, criticized, and characterized. From the displays of Harriet Powers’ creations at the turn of the twentieth century to contemporary exhibits of black art quilts in addition to utilitarian expressions, Turner assesses the level of control African Americans have had or have not had over the materials they craft and the art they leave as legacy to new generations.