Tuesday, January 17, 2023

ITC and UTSA Libraries celebrate Black History Month with new content and programming

ITC and UTSA Libraries celebrate Black History Month with new content and programming

JANUARY 17, 2023 — To coincide with the annual observance of Black History Month, the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) will unveil new content in its African American Texans exhibit including a display of new quilts and a new student-produced video oral history project.

The ITC has built connections with the African American Quilt Circle of San Antonio (AAQCSA). As part of the revitalization of its African American gallery, the AAQCSA has created a new piece entitled “The Fabric of a People,” which tells some of Texas’ forgotten histories. The new quilt exhibit will open on February 10 and remain part of the institute’s permanent exhibit. View it and other story quilts in person to learn more about the Black American heritage of quilting.

Equally as engaging, “You Take It from Here” features three families discussing their connection to San Antonio's East Side. The oral history videos document high school students interviewing their parents with experiences and thoughts ranging from neighborhood changes to the effect of the Civil Rights era on their lives. This project is a collaboration between ITC and staff from San Antonio ISD's Advanced Learning Academy and CAST Tech schools.

“The Institute of Texan Cultures is about the people of Texas, and it’s important we engage groups like the African American Quilt Circle and students at the Advanced Learning Academy to gain perspectives from everyday people living everyday lives,” said Veronica Rodriguez, the institute’s interim head curator. “Where other museums might tell the stories of heroes and events that shaped Texas, our job is to tell the stories of people who preserve and share our customs and traditions. They have defined our way of living and life in Texas.”

The ITC will host a series of free, public workshops featuring the African American Quilt Circle. The UTSA community is encouraged to join in the institute’s observance of African American History Month: 

Quilt in a Jar Workshop
Sunday, January 22 • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Attendees will learn basic sewing and quilting skills. Admission is free, but only 20 seats are available. RSVP here.

Exhibit opening: “The Fabric of a People: Black American Quilting in Texas” and “You Take It from Here”
Friday, February 10 • viewable during ITC regular hours
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

See the new exhibit featuring a display of storytelling quilts and a student-produced video oral history project.

Threading History: An Artist's Reflection on Textile Art with Taylor Barnes
Friday, February 17 • 11 a.m. to noon
Virtual conversation via Zoom

Texan fiber artist Taylor Barnes will share how she was introduced to the personal and oral histories that influenced her artistic practice, how she chooses her materials, techniques and subject matter, and the significance of quilting and textile art in Black American history. A brief question-and-answer period will follow.

Quilt in a Jar Workshop
Sunday, February 19 • 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Presented by the African American Quilt Circle of San Antonio, attendees will learn basic sewing and quilting skills. Admission is free, but only 20 seats are available. RSVP here.

Pop Up Studio Hour with AAQCSA
Tuesday, February 21 • noon to 1 p.m.
UTSA Main Campus, John Peace Library GroupSpot B

Members of the African American Quilt Circle of San Antonio will be at the JPL to discuss their works in the new ITC exhibition, “The Fabric of a People.” Stop by and chat about the heritage of African American story quilts, ask questions about quilting or bring your own project. A limited number of starter supply kits will be available for beginners on a first come, first served basis.

“Quilts are incredibly important artifacts of our history and heritage,” said Liz Lopez Gutierrez, ITC educator. “Nothing ever went to waste – not even a scrap of cloth. Our ancestors saved all these scraps and sewed them into quilts to ensure they had the warmth to endure winter weather. Story quilts take this patchwork of fabric pieces and delve deeper into our stories and memories.”

Pre-pandemic upgrades to the ITC’s African American Texans section include a new info-wall dedicated to African American Texans’ military service and an info-wall on textiles and share-cropping, in addition to the sharecropper house virtual experience created for the ITC website.

About the Institute of Texan Cultures

The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures’ mission is to give voice to the experiences of people from across the globe that call Texas home, providing insight into our past, present and future.

About the African American Quilt Circle

The African American Quilt Circle of San Antonio is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and was founded in August 2017 by four quilters with a primary goal of fostering a quilting community, sharing the heritage of quilting and promotion.

James Benavides



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