100 Years of African-American History

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On an unexpected night in an unexpected place, guests perused a unique collection of quilts by fiber artist Tina Williams Brewer. In the lobby of the Alcoa Corporate Center on Feb. 22, 10 quilts were on display. Each piece of fiber art represented a decade of Pittsburgh history beginning in 1910 and ending in the era of President Obama.

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INSPIRED BY THE QUILTS—Julie Caponi (Alcoa location manager) and Velma Montiero-Tribble.

The quilts, representing 100 years of African-American history, carry names like Unity, Creativity, Collective Economics, Collective Work and Responsibility, Purpose, Self-Determination, Faith, Destiny, Achievement and Hope and Healing. The quilts tell a story with pictures from the Pittsburgh Courier archives on beautiful fabric. Tina and her husband, John Brewer, an oral historian, explained the concept of each quilt to the spellbound audience.

 

“I decided to break the century up into 10 decades, each representing a specific theme in African-American history. I used the African principle of Kwanzaa as a guide for the first seven decades. For the last three, I used an ancient storyboard method known as Lukasa (memory boards that record history) to illustrate the events. The images chosen for each decade summarize what occurred during that 10-year period, and beyond,” said Brewer.

She went on to say, “The photographs from the Pittsburgh Courier within each quilt were selected to create a window into that era to visually lead the viewer back in time.”

While reviewing the quilts guests noshed on chicken kabobs, meatballs, fresh fruit and cheese and were able to speak to the artist about her exciting work. The evening was hosted by Scott Hudson (Alcoa manager of global initiative and program development).

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TINA AND JOHN BREWER

There will be many more opportunities to see this fiber art retrospective. The exhibit will travel to the Senator John Heinz History Center for spring-summer 2010, then on to the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture fall 2010 through winter 2011 and finally, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, winter 2011. See  http://www.tinawilliamsbrewer.com for specific dates.

Spotted: Doris Carson Williams, Samuel Black, Connie Portis, Doris Wade, Melissa Wade and Laura Horner.

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