Art Center to host virtual program on African American quilt traditions

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, January 26, 2021


News release

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, the Art Center of the Bluegrass will host a free virtual program on African American Quilt Traditions. The talk, led by Jereann King Johnson of Durham, NC, is the latest arts appreciation lecture in their ongoing Lunch with the Arts series.

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Executive Director Niki Kinkade says that the topic was chosen to connect to the Art Center’s current show – The Art of Being Black: Conversation and Experience. “As we planned the exhibit, we also wanted to provide opportunities for our community to learn, connect, and engage with the themes of the show, beyond just the artwork itself.”

“The Heritage,” by Sandra Charles. – Photo submitted

Two paintings in the show feature bold, beautiful quilts designed with African patterns and colors. “The Legacy” and “The Heritage” were created by Louisville artist Sandra Charles in response to a series of community conversations hosted by the Art Center this fall. As she listened to the conversations, Charles says, “the common thread was the strong sense of community, responsibility and a determination to keep the accomplishments of our ancestors alive. The tradition of the African American quilt personifies their words. Originally made from scraps of materials, each quilt is sewn with love into beautiful objects that provide warmth, comfort and an artistic holder of our history.  This is the reason I wanted to include this important tradition in both paintings.  It symbolizes keeping the important stories of our legacy and heritage alive from generation to generation.”

Niki Kinkade explains that Sandra’s pieces inspired her to want to learn more about African American quilt traditions. “There is so much history contained within quilts,” she says.

For their Lunch with the Arts Program, the Art Center turned to Jereann King Johnson, a quilter and fiber artist from Durhan, NC. She has lived in the south all of her life and known quilts all of her childhood.

In collaboration with several North Carolina quilters, Jereann helped to launch the African American Quilt Circle (AAQC) in Durham, North Carolina in 1999, and the Heritage Quilters in Warrenton, North Carolina in 2001. Both groups are making significant contributions to the preservation and continuation of quilting heritage and arts.

AAQC is at the forefront of exhibiting art and narrative quilts, and the Heritage Quilters model community engagement through work with schools, by leading community tours, and by maintaining a giving circle that provides funds for youth field trips and scholarships.

Jereanne King Johnson. – Photo submitted

King Johnson’s presentation will focus on quilts, quilting, and history from an African American quilters’ perspective. The presentation will be grounded in images of both traditional quilts, narrative quilts, and social justice quilts. King Johnson will also share insights into lessons learned on the quilting journey.

To register for this program, visit

To view the virtual exhibit for The Art of Being Black: Conversation and Experience, visit

Art Center of the Bluegrass – presenting The Art of Being Black: Conversation and Experience. Explore three exhibits celebrating the Black experience and join the conversation in person and online through April 17.