The MultiCultural Center held a reception for a new art exhibit by Los Angeles-based group African American Quilters of Los Angeles on Oct. 21.
A group of students and community members gathered to view the exhibit, titled “Art Reception: African American Quilters of Los Angeles,” which featured brightly colored, hand-made quilts lining the red walls of the MultiCultural Center (MCC).
The quilts were donated in September by the African American Quilters of Los Angeles (AAQLA) whose goal is to increase the personal and public awareness and knowledge of African American quilting, as well as “celebrating and continuing the tradition of quilting,” according to the MCC flyer.
Several different fabrics are stitched together on each quilt, creating designs commemorating Black history and traditions.
“Every art has their own community, and within that community, quilting has a language all to itself. If you go to a quilting event, it doesn’t matter where that person is or origin, ideology, demographic — you can speak to them because it’s [their] own language,” AAQLA President Claudia Haskins said.
The organization has been creating quilts since 1989, and since then, members’ works have been displayed at various quilt shows and exhibitions throughout the Los Angeles area.
The guild’s new position at the MCC is the furthest their quilts have traveled and the first time they have entrusted someone with the quilts for an extended period of time. The quilts will be featured until the end of the Fall Quarter 2023.
After a few months of continuous reassurance from Interim Program Coordinator Micky Brown that the quilts would be appreciated on campus, the guild felt confident the quilts would be in good hands.
“Everyone was excited about coming back to see the exhibit because at first we just thought it was an exhibit, but then we started understanding that you have other activities that are also in this room and they see these quilts,” Haskins said. “So our quilts are being exposed to areas that we would have never had an opportunity to see or go to.”
The quilts on display capture the joys and hardships of the Black community, Haskins said. They range from quilts with traditional African designs and patterns, quilts featuring historical Black icons and a quilt dedicated to the late George Floyd. Through multiple fabrics and patterns, members bring stories and historical figures to life, a process that “takes as long as it takes.”
“I look at quilting as pieces of a puzzle — we can start off with one color or process, and [if] in the middle of it … it just isn’t working … we will change the whole thing, that’s how life is,” Haskins said.
To view the AAQLA exhibit, visit the display in the MCC Lounge until Dec. 15.
A version of this article appeared on p. 4 of the Oct. 26, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.