George Floyd’s death inspires a year of quilt exhibitions

Submitted photo

When Minneapolis became the epicenter of the nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racism in America following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Textile Center and Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) joined forces to create “We Are the Story”, a multi-venue initiative in the Twin Cities, September 10, 2020, through June 12, 2021.

Under the curatorial direction of Carolyn Mazloomi, WCQN founder and member of Textile Center’s National Artist Advisory Council, “We Are the Story” opens in September with exhibitions at Textile Center and the American Swedish Institute.

Due to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Textile Center is extending the previously announced timeline for “We Are the Story” into June 2021, which will ensure that the quilts can be seen in person by as many people as possible in safe, socially distanced environments.

Extending the timeline also allows the exhibition of quilts to coincide with the observation of the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Two juried exhibitions–”Gone but Never Forgotten: Remembering Those Lost to Police Brutality” and Racism: In the Face of Hate We Resist”–serve as a centerpiece for “We Are the Story.”

Given the urgency of these issues in America, quilters from around the nation worked under an extremely tight creative timeline. The calls were open in mid-June to all artists regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, race, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, and 423 quilts were submitted by the July 31 deadline. Mazloomi selected 89 quilts for the two exhibitions.

Textile Center and WCQN recently announced the quilts selected for these exhibitions below.
As part of “We Are the Story,” the American Swedish Institute will present the Minnesota
premiere of WCQN’s “We Who Believe in Freedom” September 10 through November 1, 2020.

Assembled in 2016 to honor the 55 th anniversary of the Freedom Riders, “We Who Believe in Freedom” represents works by members of WCQN that tell the story of the African American experience.

“We Are the Story” also includes four solo exhibitions. “I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free” (Quilts by Dorothy Burge, Chicago, IL) will be presented at the Textile Center September 29 through December 24, 2020. The venues and dates for the following three venues will be announced soon:

“Sacred Invocations” (Quilts by Sylvia Hernandez, Brooklyn, NY); “The Protest Series” (Quilts by Penny Mateer, Pittsburgh, PA); and “Freedom Rising: I Am the Story” (Quilts by L’Merchie Frazier, Boston, MA.)

Select quilts will also be presented with community partners later this winter and spring including the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum, Division of Indian Work in South Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-
Engagement Center in North Minneapolis, Homewood Studios in North Minneapolis, Studio 106
in Burnsville, and St. Catherine University’s Apparel, Merchandising and Design Gallery.

A series of Zoom talks, including We Are the Story: Let’s Talk about Race presented by Textile
Center, WCQN and Friends, will be announced soon. These Zoom presentations will focus on issues of police brutality, racism, and inequities in America in support of Black Lives Matter, as well as introduce the more than 100 quilters featured in these exhibitions. The Zoom talks will be open to the public.

For more info, visit

The Textile Center is located at 3000 University Ave. S.E., Minneapolis. For more info, visit or call 612-436-0464.

The ASI is located at 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis. For more info, visit or call 612-871-4907.