Made to Last: The Legacy of the Jubilee Quilt Circle

May 28, 2022 — September 10, 2022
Main Gallery

Summer Exhibitions Reception
Friday, May 27, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

HCCC is pleased to present Made to Last: The Legacy of the Jubilee Quilt Circle, held in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of The Community Artists’ Collective (The Collective). Featuring a selection of quilts made by current participants and founding members, the exhibition celebrates the history of The Collective’s Jubilee Quilt Circle and honors the quilting traditions and narratives of the African American community.

Serving as an educational and cultural link among African American artists and all communities, the Community Artists’ Collective has always made quilting and sewing an important part of their programming. In 2007, they officially named The Jubilee Quilt Circle as a regular program, open to anyone interested in learning or sharing their quilting, knitting, crocheting, and/or embroidery projects. In addition to hosting weekly meetings, the Circle promotes the legacy of African American quilting (a longstanding tradition, with roots in Africa) through workshops, art fairs, and community outreach.

The exhibition celebrates the transformative process of quilting and the powerful connections this art form creates across generations. Serving as loving and creative embodiments of the members who made them, the quilts on view incorporate materials, narratives, and techniques from the past to build a lasting legacy for future generations. Many reference symbolism, such as the coded patterns of the Underground Railroad quilts that guided travelers many years ago. Current members of The Collective often reflect on their ancestors’ preference for hand sewing over machine stitching, a contrast to the combination of techniques and free improvisation they currently use to add their own creative signatures to their works.

The quilts on view express a variety of stories and artistic styles. Established quilter Leslie Abrams relocated to Houston, after evacuating from New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. Many of her quilts were destroyed in the flood; however, the exhibition will feature Migration (2006), one of her salvaged and prized hand-stitched quilts. Works like Underground Railroad (2019), by Hastle Murray, exemplify the ingenuity often used in quilt making. Murray’s unique approach to fabric printing allowed her to share the history of the Underground Railroad without breaking the bank. By scanning hand-colored images from Peter F. Copeland’s The Story of the Underground Railroad Coloring Book, Murray was able to run muslin cloth through her inkjet printer to produce stunning images on the fabric, which then could be sewn onto her quilt and embellished.

Hope (1987–2017), created by The Collective’s co-founder and executive director, Michelle Barnes, was created over a 30-year span, as a “labor of love” for her son, Barry. This quilt, like many others included in the exhibition, reflects the hard work and dedication that these artists have for their loved ones and the community as a whole. Barnes commented, “Quilting is actually a metaphor that stitches creativity, comfort, love, protection, hope, happiness and more. I hope the quilts will bring joy and conjure up warm and wonderful memories for all who view them.”

Made to Last: The Legacy of the Jubilee Quilt Circle is co-curated by HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall and HCCC Curatorial Fellow Cydney Elaine Pickens.

About The Community Artists’ Collective
The Collective serves as an educational and cultural link among African American artists and all communities to inspire unlimited creativity. It aims to serve as a bastion for cross-cultural appreciation, artistic empowerment, and accessibility to the arts by fostering racial and ideological inclusivity among Houston’s local art community.  More information about The Community Artists’ Collective can be found at www.thecollective.org. The Jubilee Quilt Circle meets every Thursday, from 11 AM – 3 PM, and Friday, from 1 – 3 PM at The Collective, 4101 San Jacinto Street, Suite 116, Houston, Texas 77004.


Image credits:

  1. Ronah Brown, detail of “Family Tree” (2019). Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  2. Ronah Brown, detail of back side of “Family Tree” (2019). Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  3. Hastle Dean Murray, detail of “Chevron Towers” (2021). Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  4. Hastle Dean Murray, detail of “Chevron Towers” (2021). Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  5. Leslie Abrams, “Flying from the Sun (African Couple).” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  6. Leslie Abrams, detail of “Flying from the Sun (African Couple).” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  7. Leslie Abrams,“Kickin’ Oil.” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  8. Leslie Abrams, detail of “Kickin’ Oil.” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  9. Leslie Abrams, detail of “Kickin’ Oil.” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  10. Leslie Abrams, “Welcome (Citizenship Quilt).” 94 x 77.5 inches. Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  11. Leslie Abrams, detail of “Welcome (Citizenship Quilt).” 94 x 77.5 inches. Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  12. Hastle Dean Murray, detail of “Juneteenth” (2019). T-shirts, hooks, and quilting. Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
  13. Hastle Dean Murray, detail of “Untitled (Top).” Photo courtesy Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.