Tunde Odunlade has the honor of collaborating once again with one of the oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America. The Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Bowie State University, in collaboration with the school’s Alumni Relations department, has mounted a remarkable exhibition of quilts from around the world and Tunde’s work is included.
Featured front and center is the work of Maryland native Dr. Joan Gaither, an artist and arts educator who activates communities around the state to create elaborate story quilts that tell the stories of the Maryland’s – indeed, the nation’s – painful history of slavery and discrimination.
Tunde’s work is in the section of the exhibition dedicated to traditional African textiles. The quilt, “Eiye Nkorin” (“Bird Sings…”) is made of batik on corduroy, damask, embroidered textiles. It is part of the Bowie State permanent collection.
The exhibition makes clear the link between modern-day story telling through the art of quilting; the important history of quilts during slavery, when quilt patterns were used to convey critical information and directions to runaway slaves making the perilous journey on the Underground Railroad; and the long history of African textiles.
The traditional African textiles in the exhibit are from–besides Nigeria–Mali, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Dr. Gaither’s quilts are “historic visual documents from textiles that record and preserve the stories of Americans in a unique way.” Incorporating media as thoroughly modern as digital photography, the work proves the timelessness of quilt making, and we humans’ endless capacity for innovation in art.
This is a free show, definitely worth seeing if you love textiles! Or history! Easy to get to, plenty of parking.
It runs through April 6th in the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Bowie State University, 14000 Jericho Park Road, Bowie, Maryland 20715.