Thousands Of Authentic African-American Textile Quilts Donated To Berkeley Museum | Alternative Fruit
When Psychotherapist and art-fanatic Eli Leon met Rosie Lee Tompkins in 1985, a love affair with textiles began. Rosie was well-known for creating beautiful and ornately designed quilts. The homely and cosy allure of quilts combine with the vibrancy and optimism of African-American thought to make vivid and beautiful blankets. Eli Leon managed to amass nearly three thousand individual pieces, fashioned by artistic hands from all over the States. A significant fraction of these are credited to Rosie Lee Tompkins, the instigator of this love for textile design. When Leon died in 2018, he wrote in his will that his huge and splendid collection was to be re-homed with the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Along side works by Rosie Lee Tompkins, visitors can also catch a glimpse of pieces by Arbie Williams, Laverne Brackens, Gladys Henry, Sherry Byrd, and Angie Tobias as well as hundreds of others. Like many names, Rosie Lee Tompkins is no longer with us so having a collection of works by these unique and high-quality artists truly preserves something of their soul for the years to come. Expect to see the beginnings of the exhibit in February 2020 with expansion until 2022. A larger showcasing of the work by Rosie Lee Tompkins is expected to also be displayed.
Leaving a gift of this large collection to the people really makes an important point about who owns culture and the stories that it tells. Truly remarkable works of art deserve to be admired and treasured by the people who inspired them and their descendants. Works like these also contribute vastly to the element of cultural exchange where artists become inspired and take concepts and ideas from there into other areas of expression. Perhaps most important of all, the exhibiting of these brilliant and evocative artworks helps to readdress the balance between Caucasian and African cultures.
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