IV

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

John Biggers

Quilting Party, 1981

(From the Shotgun Series)

Lithograph

22.25" x 15"


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Quilting Party

John Biggers's interest in African cultural systems, along with his own experiences in the American South, inform his highly personal aesthetic and contribute to his rich symbolic language. Biggers's images impart layered meanings both as immediately recognizable symbols of everyday life and as spiritual connections to an African heritage. In Quilting Party from the Shotgun Series, Biggers's complex symbology unfolds within the highly patternistic, quilt-like approach to form. Black women symbolize the eternal ancestor and the nurturing womb, and maintain a mystical presence throughout Biggers's body of work. Quilts, pots, kettles, and washboards evoke memories of domestic and spiritual arts performed by African and southern black women. Shotgun houses are icons of southern black architecture, with roots in Africa, via the Caribbean. The two female figures in the 1981 lithograph are echoed in Biggers's major mural Quilting Party from 1980-1981 at the Music Hall in Houston, Texas.  A. L. C.

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