Colby art museum acquires painted textile

The Colby College Museum of Art has acquired a story quilt, “Coming to Jones Road #4: Under A Blood Red Sky” (2000), by American artist, activist, teacher and children’s book author Faith Ringgold. Luc Demers photo

WATERVILLE — The Colby College Museum of Art has acquired a story quilt, “Coming to Jones Road #4: Under A Blood Red Sky” (2000), by American artist, activist, teacher and children’s book author Faith Ringgold.

The quilt is scheduled to go on view in April in the Colby Museum’s Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion. It joins another work by the artist in the museum’s collection, the print “The Sunflower’s Quilting Bee at Arles” (1997).

Ringgold’s first New York retrospective in more than 40 years opened at the New Museum in February. The quilt was featured in the artist’s first European retrospective, which opened in London at the Serpentine Galleries in 2019 before traveling to Glenstone in Potomac, Maryland, in 2021, according to a news release from the college.

The painted textile is widely reproduced, and one of eight story quilts in the artist’s Coming to Jones Road series. The artist herself made multiple versions of Under a Blood Red Sky, including a gouache drawing and a print, but only one that she turned into what she defines as a story quilt. Ringgold invented a version of the medium that combines painted and sewn elements, and uses it to tell visual stories in series, as if they were pages of a storybook.

Composed of acrylic on canvas with fabric borders, Under a Blood Red Sky tells a story of the resilience of enslaved people as they made their journey north toward freedom along the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that extended into New England. Along the edges, Ringgold inscribes first-person narratives of the people on the journey: “By day we prayed for the black of night to come to cover us.”

The story quilt strengthens the museum’s holdings of works by influential women artists and Black artists, and enables the Colby Museum to more fully tell the story of an artist who helped define feminist art practices in the late 20th century. It will be useful for teaching art, art history, American history, American literature, performance studies, and environmental humanities. Under a Blood Red Sky will also help museum visitors learn about the Underground Railroad, the dangers encountered by enslaved people seeking personal freedom, and the strength and cultural affirmation that were also part of these stories.

For more information, contact The Colby College Museum of Art at 207-859-5600 or [email protected]or visit museum.colby.edu.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.