|Pnwheel Flower, Missouri, ca. 1860|
This month’s special exhibit at the DuSable Museum of African-American History encouraged me to make good on a long-held wish to spend a day exploring that museum. When the Zion-Benton Public Library hosted the DuSable’s mobile museum on February 13 I was doubly-encouraged. (I hope you, too, took the time to walk through the museum “bus” when it was parked in front of the library.)
Benberry (1923-2007) lived in St. Louis. She had degrees in education and library science. Her interest in quilts was sparked shortly after her marriage. “All of the women in my husband’s family were very proud of their quilts and what amazed me was that the quilts had names,” she wrote. “They’d put their quilts in competition in county fairs. It was the quilt designs and patterns that first attracted me. I found out there were pattern collectors and I became one, too.”
|Red Boots by Fanny Cork ca. 1890|
Cuesta's husband's great-great grandmother
Her expertise grew. She wrote numerous articles and four books about African-American quilts. She was a consultant for nearly every major exhibit of African-American quilts. She was a founding member of the American Quilt Study Group, the premiere association for scholarly quilt studies. She was a well-regarded mentor to other quilt historians.
|WPA Tulip, by Minnie Benberry, ca.1930|
I didn’t want to leave the quilt exhibit but we wanted to see other parts of the museum. There is a history of African-Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces from the Revolution to the present day. “A slow Walk to Greatness” is a permanent exhibit that tells the story of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Galleries display paintings and sculpture by African-Americans.
|Mammy Dolls [date?]|
Cuesta included depictions of racial/ethnic stereotypes in her collection
|Kiss 1, Kiss 2 by Faith Ringgold, 1993|