Stark Museum of Art acquires quilts for permanent collection

Published 9:29 am Monday, June 3, 2024

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The Stark Museum of Art announced the acquisition of two art quilts that are part of special exhibition, “Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West.”

The works of art acquired for their permanent collection are “The Game Changer” by Carolyn Crump and “Cathy Williams a.k.a. William Cathay: Female Buffalo Soldier” by Georgia Williams.

The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation purchased the pictorial quilts for the museum.

To coordinate with the acquisitions, the Stark Museum of Art has also commissioned touch objects from the two artists. Crump and Williams each made a small quilt to provide visitors with a hands-on experience to relate to their exhibition quilt.

“We at the Stark Museum of Art are so excited to be able to acquire ‘The Game Changer’ and ‘Cathy Williams a.k.a. William Cathay’ for the Museum’s collection,” said Sarah Boehme, Stark Museum of Art curator.

“They will add so many new dimensions to our holdings. They tell stories that expand our knowledge of history. The art form of quilting is a new expression for our collections, and it will spark fresh avenues of creativity.”

Crump’s “The Game Changer” tells the story of Lieutenant Charles Young (1864–1922), a West Point graduate. Young served with the Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, one of the segregated military units composed of African American troops, often called “buffalo soldiers.”

Crump’s quilt features a bold portrait of Young as a patriotic leader, layered with scenes from his early career and elements that symbolize his accomplishments.

Crump’s handsome quilt has strong visual presence featuring three-dimensional appliqués and a composition that breaks from the rectangular shape of the quilt form.

Beaumont native Georgia Williams, left, discusses her art quilt, “Cathy Williams a.k.a. William Cathay: Female Buffalo Soldier.” (Courtesy photo)

Williams’ “Cathy Williams a.k.a. William Cathay: Female Buffalo Soldier” relates the biography of Cathy Williams who disguised herself as a man so she could enlist in the U.S. Army.

After the Civil War, she enlisted in the 38th Infantry Regiment, a segregated unit whose troops are known as “buffalo soldiers.”

Williams’ quilt encircles a portrait of Cathy Williams with vignettes of her life from enslavement through soldiering under the name “William Cathay” and subsequent events. Williams uses African fabric and photo-appliques to present dramatically the story of this female solider.

Born in Detroit, Crump now lives and has her studio in Houston.

She has works in the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery collection and the Michigan State University African American Quilt collection.

Williams grew up in Beaumont and now lives and works in Houston.

Her quilts have received numerous awards in quilt exhibitions. She currently has a quilt on view in the United States Embassy in Estonia.

Executive Director Jennifer Dickinson said Stark Museum of Art is committed to ensuring the collection comprehensively tells the story of all who lived and explored the American West.

“Carolyn Crump and Georgia Williams’ quilts are important acquisitions that help us better reach this goal,” Dickinson said. “The additions of their incredible works of art to the collection will provide new opportunities for the museum to dive deeper into the history of the American West and expand the art media represented in our collection.

“It was a truly magical experience collaborating with Carolyn Crump and Georgia Williams with the hands-on, touch quilts exclusively on view with the exhibition at the Stark Museum of Art. Their vision of what these touch quilts could be exceeded any expectation that I might have had when originally approaching them, and I am so grateful they were willing to collaborate with us and create these incredible educational items to engage our visitors with their quilts that will now be a part of our permanent collection.”

The Stark Museum of Art is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and is located at 712 Green Avenue in Orange.