By MADDY VITALE
Each piece has a message. Each piece is unique. Quilts created by a dozen African American quilters throughout the state are on exhibit at the Ocean City Arts Center.
The show, “Stitched Stories: An Exhibition of African American Quilters & Fiber Artists from New Jersey,” opened July 1 and runs through July 29 at the gallery on the second floor of the Ocean City Community Center at 1735 Simpson Ave. It features 20 quilts from a dozen quilters from all over the state. There is no admission charge.
For art lovers who want to meet with some of the quilters, seven out of the 12 quilters will be on hand for a “Meet the Artists” reception Friday, July 8, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. including quilter, Barbara Jorden, from Franklinville in Gloucester County.
The reception is being hosted by the Cape May County NAACP and Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro.
Jackson described the different pieces of art.
“I love the mixture of the stories and the types of quilts here,” she said in an interview. “Some are done by machine, some are applique and scrappy, a term for quilts made with leftover fabric from other projects and some new material. We have contemporary, traditional, picturesque, and a good mix of quilts.”
Jackson noted that although the show just opened, so many people have come through to view the artwork and hear about what went into creating them as well as the significance and stories behind each piece.
“We already have had lots of people come through already, which was pleasantly surprising since it’s only been open physically for three days,” Jackson noted of the show. “I’m really excited that we are really excited that there are quilters from all over the New Jersey.”
When visitors come through the art center, they will receive a booklet which explains the stories behind the individual quilts.
She explained why she believes quilts are so important and why they touch many people.
“I think because quilts speak for the people who make them. It is another language from the heart and the spirit,” Jackson said of the artists. “Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s an age-old medium. But it is also what they put into it. There is always a message and meaning behind it.”
The exhibiting artists are from The Nubian Heritage Quilters Guild from North Jersey and Princeton Sankofa Stitchers Modern Quilters Guild from Central Jersey. The Imes sisters, Barbara Imes Jorden and Jacqueline Imes Jenkins, from South Jersey, and Philadelphia fiber artist, Christina Johnson will also be in attendance.
Quilters who will be present for the reception include Barbara Imes Jorden, Glendora Simonson, Carolyn Davis, Mary Ellen Assue, Ora Downing Brown, Rose Mary Briggs and Juandamarie Gikandi, representing the different guilds.
The program was made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Ocean City Arts Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For further information, call (609) 399-7628. Check out the Arts Center at oceancityartscenter.org, on Facebook and Instagram.