Fitton Center aids new powerful quilt exhibit at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

A new exhibition, We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism will be on display at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center through Fri., Sept. 24. CONTRIBUTED
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A new exhibition, We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism will be on display at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center through Fri., Sept. 24. CONTRIBUTED

A new exhibition, “We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism” will be on display at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center through Sept. 24 in part because of the work of officials in Hamilton.

The internationally acclaimed exhibition, curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi courtesy of the Women of Color Quilters Network, focuses on issues such as the history of civil rights, racism in America and police brutality through a series of 54 quilts that were created in response to the murder of George Floyd.

Mazloomi said the Freedom Center didn’t have the personnel to hang the exhibition. That’s when she reached out to Cathy Mayhugh, director of exhibitions at the Fitton Center to assist with hanging the quilts.

Originating in Minneapolis, the exhibition was first on display as part of a series of seven themed exhibitions under the ‘We Are the Story’ umbrella. There were three group exhibitions and four solo exhibitions on display at several different venues.

Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center, said this is an opportunity for the Fitton Center “to engage our reach well beyond Butler County,” and also to “engage with our own community on multiple levels.”

“It’s our first opportunity to partner with them, and we’re really relishing that, and obviously to support Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, who has been an outstanding supporter and partner of the Fitton Center for many years,”MacKenzie-Thurley said.

She said the quilts are made by members of the Women of Color Quilters Network and friends. There are also quilters in the show who are from other countries. When the call was put out for entries, responses were received from people of color living in Europe, Asia, South America and the Caribbean, and others.

“After George Floyd was murdered, I felt I had to do something to call attention to police brutality and racism in the country, and I thought, ‘Well, why not start at ground zero where George Floyd was murdered?’ I’m on the board of the Textile Center in Minneapolis, and I asked the director if he could help find other institutions that would take exhibitions,” Mazloomi said.

These detailed, colorful quilts tell narrative stories through images, words, and phrases, reflecting on people, events and places. She said each quilt is a “history lesson,” and “it’s our hope that the quilts will inspire a conversation about racism in hopes of finding some reconciliation. That’s the main purpose, to start a conversation.”

Tickets for the exhibition are $5 for adults with general admission and $3 for children with general admission, and free for members. The Freedom Center is also offering free admission to the community with the purchase of a general admission ticket on Wednesdays and Sundays through Fri., Sept. 24.

In addition to the “We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism exhibition,” there will be several other community events held throughout the duration of the exhibit, including Truth and Reconciliation Conversations and Craft Check, which will kick off on Monday and continue through Sept. 24.

On Sept. 12, at 2 p.m., Music Hall will host A Black Anthology of Music: The Resilience of Jazz in the Music Hall Ballroom.