Help us identify these families!

In honor of National Quilting Day, research conservator Annaick Keruzec takes a closer look at several quilts with photographic patches in the museum’s collection.

Quilts are made for comfort, to decorate a home, or to tell a family story. For a textile conservator like myself, each quilt is unique and fascinating. Crafted from small pieces of fabric, they carry within them things that were part of the quilt maker’s environment. I can spend hours researching each fabric square, identifying fibers through the microscope or combing through historic sales catalogues to date and source the fabrics. I can examine how they were selected, arranged, and stitched together. I can document and admire the handiwork, the color combinations, and the artistry. Quilts are richly textured objects, full of connections and personal choices made by the maker. Indeed, researching quilts can offer remarkable insights on the person who made them.

Quilt with photographic patches

Shroud Series #2, Quilt by Fay Pullen Fairbrother. Photographed during examination in the collections processing room of the museum.

Several quilts in the museum’s collection incorporate squares with photographic images printed on them. This gives an added layer of complexity. How were they made? Why were these photos chosen? What was the artist’s intention? I am collaborating with a photo conservator and conservation scientists at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) to document these photographic quilts historically, technically, and personally from the artist’s perspective. In the next few months, we will analyze the fabrics, inks, emulsions, and binders used to create the photo patches – and we will report on it in this blog.

I’ve been examining a set of seven quilts created in the early 1990s by the artist Fay Pullen Fairbrother (1948-1997). Collectively titled The Shroud Series, they incorporate turn-of-the-century photographs depicting family portraits, lynchings, and the Ku Klux Klan. In an artist statement shortly after she made the quilts, Fairbrother wrote that the photographs of the KKK activities, studio portraits of black and white families, and lynched men clearly reflected a dissolution of family values and morals, Christian or otherwise. She chose to accentuate the dissonance of the violent imagery by juxtaposing it with quilt making, which has associations of comfort and family. The images stand out among the patchwork of the quilt.

 

I’ve been sourcing the images for the 50 photo-patches Fairbrother created, although I am not sure where and how she located them pre-internet. She reused some images, so they constitute a total of 24 different photographs. Among them are eight photographs depicting lynchings. Lynchings were public events that were described and recorded in local and sometimes national news. Some were depicted on early 20th-century postcards. I have identified the men in four photographs as Bennie Simmons (1913), Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith (1930), Claude Neal (1934), and Rubin Stacy (1935), whose photographs are published in Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America (2000). Four other scenes remain unidentified.

On three of the quilts in the Shroud Series, Fairbrother incorporated family portraits. They show well-dressed black and white families posing against draped studio backdrops. In contrast to the lynching photographs, the portraits are private and personal. Family portraits are also ubiquitous, and it is hard to describe them in a way that is unique. As a result, portraits are difficult to research and document. I have contacted archives to which Fairbrother might have had access, but have not yet located the images she used.

Please help us identify the five family portraits shown above and below! Have you seen these photographs or any like them? Let us know in the comments section.

  

Our scientific research on the quilts will continue to reveal Fairbrother’s technical processes. Meanwhile I am hoping to discover more about the artist’s life and sources of inspiration for her exceptional quilt series.

Happy Birthday, Celia Cruz!

Born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, the Queen of Salsa is better known as Celia Cruz.

The importance and significance of this music legend cannot be understated. She is represented all over the Smithsonian including the National Museum of American History  , National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Postal Museum , Smithsonian Folkways, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Every museum has a unique mission and thus interpretation of history and culture. The Anacostia Community Museum’s mission focuses on urban history and culture. The next exhibition to open will be Gateways.

Gateways  explores the triumphs and struggles of Latino migrants and immigrants in four urban destinations: Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Raleigh-Durham, NC and Charlotte, NC

Visitors to the upcoming Gateways exhibition will see an urban interpretation of the icon.  M. Tony Peralta, a child of Dominican immigrants, was born and raised in the uptown neighborhood of Washington Heights, NY.  Being raised in New York during the hip-hop generation greatly influenced him and his work.

What does Celia Cruz have to do with Gateways?

The ubiquity of Dominican salons might surprise you. Indeed you can find them all over the U.S, including the Gateways metro areas of Washington DC, Baltimore, MD, Raleigh-Durham, NC and Charlotte, NC. Rolos are iconic in Dominican salons and Celia Cruz is everyday music. Celia Cruz is a music icon and rolos are an everyday item.  Peralta’s work blurs the lines of the iconic and the everyday giving us:

CeliaBlog

Celia con Rolos, 2015 M. Tony Peralta NY, New York

 

The exhibition will boast the 37″ x 42″ canvas rather than this poster version. But enjoy this preview! You can hear Tony talk about this piece and his work when Gateways opens December 5th.

The Miss Senior DC 2016 Pageant

We had the pleasure of attending the Ms. Senior DC pageant earlier this summer.  The pageant featured several of Ward 7 & 8 neighbors, including Miss Congress Heights, Elvera Patrick, who received the title of Miss Congeniality for her efforts with this pageant. Below we present a highlight reel of some of our favorite moments.

 

Women Photographers of Washington Presentation at the Anacostia Community Museum

The Anacostia Community Museum seeks to be a gathering place for important conversations pertaining to urban communities. We devise our public programming and community forums with this goal in mind.  This Sunday, September 18, we were pleased to present the work of two local photographers, Becky Harlan and Gabriela Bulisova, both members of the 501C3 non-profit, Women Photojournalists of Washington.  Harlan and Bulisova have both been working for many years on the projects they presented.

Women Photojournalist of Washington member Becky Harlan presents her work on the Anacostia River to a full house at the Anacostia Community Museum on Sunday September 18, 2016.

WPOW Member Becky Harlan shares work from her project on the Anacostia River.

Harlan’s project “D.C.’s Anacostia River” looks at the history of the Anacostia, from fertile native American fishing ground, to its status as a polluted river, the river keepers who take it upon themselves to maintain a better tributary, and the communities that have formed around the river. Below is a frame taken from her project, more work can be seen on her website here:

Photographer Becky Harlan's work on the Anacostia River. Here a clean-up crew at Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Photographer Becky Harlan’s work on the Anacostia River. Here a clean-up crew at Kennilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Gabriela Bulisova’s work Inside Outside and Convictions examines the lives of returning citizens, the formerly incarcerated, and the families left behind.  According to the International Center for Prison Studies, the United States has the largest percentage of incarcerated people in its population in the world.  Bulisova spent time getting to know returning citizen groups and the families of the incarcerated, making still photographs and short movies to record their experiences.  She shared with us several short films which are accessible below and by going to Bulisova’s website here.

Photographer Gabriela Bulisova shares her work on returning citizens in Washington, DC at the Anacostia Community Museum Sunday September 18, 2016.

The discussion following the presentations was informed by the presence of several of the returning citizens with whom Bulisova has worked on her projects.  They spoke to the administrative limbo many incarcerated DC citizens find themselves in because they are beholden to the laws of the federal system, even as in many states, sentences for many crimes, especially non-violent ones are being commuted or cut short.  Because DC is not a state, prisoners find themselves trapped in a federal purgatory where  they are literally stateless citizens.

The opportunity to hear an artist discuss her work will always further your understanding of the project.  We are pleased at the Anacostia Community Museum to bring these conversations to you and hope you will join us in adding your voice to our community.

Summer Mornings of Fun at the Anacostia Community Museum

This summer from July 5- July 29, Anacostia Community Museum held a series of free arts-integrated half-day programs for seven to ten year old children in the community. The students took part in daily yoga classes, science-based nature tours of the George Washington Carver Trail, art-making, swimming and field trips to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s IMAX theatre.
Performance

Summer Academy program ended for the season on July 29 with a series of poetic performances created by the students and special guests for their families and the community. Summer Academy students worked with educators Johari Griffith, Obika Griffith and Cheryl Rider to create a protest poem entitled Revolution inspired by the music of Beyoncé and fueled by the theme of protest featured in the exhibition the Twelve Years That Shook and Shaped Washington (1963-1975). The performance was choreographed by the Summer Academy’s artist-in-residence Erica Chamblee, actress, dancer and visual artist.

After the performance in the museum, the program concluded on the park grounds of the museum with special guests, Dr. Ray Charles Lockamy, of the Cherokee Nation, and his horse Wind Walker provided to the program by ACM Security Chief Lt. Marvin Dorsey. Dr. Lockamy taught the children about caring for horses, the particular importance of getting a good education and staying in school for African Americans. Students even got a chance to ride Wind Walker and for many of them this was their first time riding a horse. DC Retro Jumpers ended the day with free 60s-style double-dutch lessons for all the children and their families.
Parents were all pleased with the summer programs at the museum and replied the children really enjoyed the program. Thank You. A special thank you goes out to Sarah Turner for creating this video documentary of the Summer Academy Community Open House.

Anacostia Community Museum Academy Performance this Friday July 29, 2016

The Anacostia Community Museum would like to invite you to an end of summer performance by our Museum Academy. I stopped by rehearsal today and got a sneak preview of what you can expect to see:

 

 

Please join us!

July 29, 2016 from 10-12:30

at the Anacostia Community Museum Program Room

1901 Fort Place SE, Washington, DC 20020

As always there is free parking!

East of the River Artist Amber Robles Gordon

Artist Amber Robles Gordon creates art from recycled materials and fiber. She sat down with the Anacostia Community Museum to discuss her practice and craft.

Anacostia Museum Academy: Black History Month Celebration Event

February 29, 2016 - The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

This year in honor of Black History month students at Savoy Elementary got together to create a Black History Month program which featured a variety of developing talents in dance, word, writing, yoga, and stilt-walking. The Anacostia Community Museum Academy is based out of Savoy Elementary and the program featured a number of Museum Academy students.

February 29, 2016 - The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Linda Maxwell of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy makes opening remarks at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Linda Maxwell of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy makes opening remarks at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

February 29, 2016 - The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy recite poetry during a performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy recite poetry during a performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy recite poetry during a performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy recite poetry during a performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian InstitutionFebruary 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy during a yoga demonstration at a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy perform on stilts during a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Members of the Anacostia Community Museum Academy perform on stilts during a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 - The Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC. Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

February 29, 2016 – Mrs. Carol Foster rallies her Savoy Players during their performance in a Black History Month event at Savoy Elementary in SE Washington, DC.
Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

12 Years that Changed Washington Exhibit

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit opening for Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington was a bittersweet affair, held shortly after the passing of Head Curator Portia James in early December.  Portia had worked at the Anacostia Community Museuem for over thirty years, guiding many exhibitions including this last.

 

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Head Curator Portia James, pictured left, was honored at the entrance to the exhibit.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Artist and printmaker Lou Stovall’s work graced the interior lobby and the Kinnard Gallery.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Vintage radio broacasts include WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi show, still airing today on FM 88.5
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Plenty of contemporary photography illuminates the struggles of times.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Chuck Brown and DC Go Go music are familiar to most Washingtonians. 
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

More illuminating were quieter events like the impact of urban planning and local historical events. 
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The development of the DC metro was not without displacement of communities.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Refashioning a federal city in DC explores home rule, racial demoghraphics, urban planning, and womens and LBGT rights.  Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael, left, and H. Rap Brown, minister of justice for the Black Panthers.  in a vintage photograph.  
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

A signature image of community activist,  Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield in 1967 and members of Youth Pride Inc. Mayfield employed over 900 youth to clean up the neighborhoods where they lived. Associated Press Photo

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The Anacostia Community Museum exhibit, Twelve Years that Changed Washington.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

 

 

Urban Waterways Newsletter

Issue 1 Reclaiming the Edge

Two worlds meet on the Anacostia

Two worlds meet on the Anacostia River, Yellow Cat Productions, Inc.

Originally published in the summer of 2013, this first issue of the Urban Waterways newsletter introduces the reader to the various communities and waterways which make up our network from the perspectives of those who are playing a role in their revitalization.   Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 1

 

Issue 2 Water and Faith

Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

Student volunteers at Kawainui Marsh
Photo: Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi

This issue explores our obligation to the natural world through the lens of our spiritual beliefs. Do we have dominion, or are we meant to be stewards? How can faith communities who have had a role as the leading moral forces in our communities make their environmental messages blend seamlessly into their moral teachings? Are faith communities an under-tapped source of authority in the efforts to “green” our communities? FinalUW Newsletter

 

Issue 3 Arts Along the Waterfront

Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten

Beat the Drum. Cassandra Kapsos-Scouten

In the third issue of the Urban Waterways project newsletter, we explore the impact of the Arts on the spirit of neighborhoods along urban waterways. The Arts have long reflected artists’ visions of the communities in which they play a role. Inversely, these interpretations are informed by the world around them, and the natural world, in its various forms, can often be an important source of inspiration.  What are the practical applications of the relationships between Art, artists, and the communities in which they live?  Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 3

 

Issue 4 Community Engagement Along Waterfronts

From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project; Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN

From the 11st Street Bridge Park Project;
Anacostia Crossing; BOARDWALK AND DOCKS
Rendering courtesy of OMA+OLIN

This issue explores the importance of community engagement in the creation of healthy, self-sustaining and equitable waterfront communities. Urban Waterways Newsletter Issue 4

 

 

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