MONTGOMERY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS TO PARTNER
WITH THE “SEW THEIR NAMES” PROJECT
On October 6, take part in the memorialization of enslaved persons from Alabama’s Black Belt through quilt making.
WHAT: Open Quilt Circle
Speakers + Reception
WHEN: Thursday, October 6, 2022
WHERE: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts
Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park
One Museum Drive
Montgomery, AL 36117
Montgomery, AL, September 20, 2022 – In
conjunction with an exhibition devoted to the
works of Alabama quilt maker Yvonne Wells, the
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is
honored to be the first venue to display a special
quilt commissioned by the Lowndes County
Community Life Center (LCCLC) at Mount Willing,
Alabama. The quilt, Worshipers at Mount Willing
Church, is an element of the “Sew Their Names”
On Thursday, October 6, the MMFA and the
LCCLC, will host an event at the Museum that
celebrates the art of quilt making and
memorializes “unnamed” souls, many of whom
have been lost to history.
Quilting Circle | 4–5 PM
The public is invited to join the quilters of Mount Willing in the Museum’s Lowder Gallery, among the
quilts of the Yvonne Wells exhibition, in sewing quilt pieces with the names of enslaved people found
in the records of Black Belt churches. Pieces from this quilting session will be used to create a second “Sew Their Names” quilt. The public may choose to honor the names of enslaved individuals from their history or from the church records using the provided fabric and thread or bringing personal textiles.
Sewing expertise is not required.
Speakers + Reception | 5:30–7 PM
Following the quilting circle, speakers will discuss the “Sew Their Names” project in the Museum’s Wilson Auditorium. Project organizer Judge Susan Russ Walker will speak about how she, along with the Director of the LCCLC, the Reverend Dale Braxton, conceptualized this memorial to the enslaved people of the Black Belt region. Reverend Braxton will introduce quilters Wini McQueen of Georgia and Yvonne Wells of Alabama, both of whom will speak about the quilts they created in response to this project and the impact of storytelling through textiles. Gail Andrews, former director at the Birmingham Museum of Art, will talk about how quilts have been used over the years as commemorative and memorial pieces, highlighting the connection between national works and the “Sew Their Names” project. After the presentations, attendees are invited to return to the Lowder Gallery with the quilters and organizers for a reception and the reveal of these two new quilts.
Yvonne Wells Exhibition
Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939) is an African-American folk artist and quilter from Tuscaloosa,
Alabama. She is best known for her self-taught style and her story quilts depicting scenes from the
Bible and the Civil Rights Movement. Wells describes herself as a “storyteller first and a folk quilter
second.” She is recognized among the latter generation of African American self-taught artists from
the Southeastern U.S. who came to prominence in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and she
continues to work daily on the creation of the appliqued narrative quilts for which she is known.
This exhibition features a selection of quilts from the MMFA permanent collection, which holds 18
significant works by this important Alabama artist. Among them will be the latest acquisition, Amistad
(1998), which tells the story of a rebellion aboard a ship transporting African captives in July of 1839,
along with other works that are central to the story of the Civil Rights struggle in the twentieth century.
In conjunction with the above exhibition, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is honored to be the
first venue to display Worshipers at Mount Willing Church (2022), a special quilt commissioned by the
LCCLC. Speaking about Wells’ quilt, Judge Walker called it, “a powerful work of art that directly
confronts the difficult history of the Southern antebellum church and its foundational role in racial
segregation and discrimination. It’s impossible to understand the later Jim Crow era and the Civil
Rights movement without recognizing that every part of church-going was already determined by race
well before the Civil War—from where Black worshipers were permitted to sit in the sanctuary; to
whether they could preach, teach, or vote in conference; and even to the question of whether heaven
itself was segregated or perhaps just entirely unavailable to Blacks. Ms. Wells’ work takes on the
critical pieces of this history.”
Galleries, Mondays, Closed
Sculpture Garden, Tuesdays–Sunday, 10 AM–5 PM
Terrace, and Store: Last entry at 4:45 PM
ADMISSION: Free! With ample, free parking.