Image: Detail from the quilt entitled “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing,” by Gwen T Samuels.
Gwen T. Samuels, a student of the Wilmette Institute course Racism in America: The Most Vital and Challenging Issue, has had the honor of having two of her quilts accepted in “We Are the Story“—a multi-site initiative of seven (7) quilt exhibitions sponsored by the Textile Center of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The exhibitions will run through June 2021 in Minnesota, and plans are being made for some of the quilts to travel to museums and galleries nationwide.
We Are the Story is curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, founder of the Women of Color Quilter’s Network (WCQN). Dr. Mazloomi is also writing a book featuring all of the quilt entries in the exhibitions.
Gwen’s quilt in the exhibit called “Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist” is entitled Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. Gwen had this to say about the quilt: “It honors one of the ways African descended people find joy, peace, and freedom. That is, through dance. In spite of their lifelong experience of racism, hatred, and oppression, they can still reach deep within themselves and bring out a dance that will loose the chains of mental slavery and give them the courage to stand up and fight for justice. That dance also heals them in the process.”
Gwen’s quilt in the exhibit called “Gone But Not Forgotten: Remembering those lost to Police Brutality” is entitled View of Heaven from My Window. She describes this quilt as follows:
“It depicts the many symbols and images, though nowhere near all of them, that creep into our mind’s eye and can never be forgotten. That is, symbols or images that represent the souls that were brutally taken from us. We may not remember all of them. We may not remember the same ones that others do. There really are too many to remember. And there are many that we never knew about. But surely, many of these symbols and images creep into our heads and remain. Who can see a pack of Skittles or a hoodie and not think of Trayvon Martin? Who can see a ski mask and not think of Elijah McClain? Who can see a $20 bill and not think of George Floyd? We cannot forget. We must not forget. We must tell their stories. We must fight for justice for these souls. We must say their names.”
For more information on the quilt exhibit “We Are the Story” please visit the Textile Center exhibition page, and watch TEXTILE TALKS: We Are the Story panel discussion on YouTube.
See also: “A Second Second Chance“—an article published in the November WI eNews about Gwen’s recently published memoir. The book recounts Gwen’s experiences contracting COVID-19, and her perspectives on prevention and healing.