Common Threads event in Auburn to focus on legacy of Mozell Benson, quilter and master artist from Alabama Nov. 14-15

Published: November 10, 2014
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AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Common Threads: Empowering Communities through Education in the Arts will hold the last in its series of public events on Friday, Nov. 14, and Saturday, Nov. 15 in Auburn. Presented by the Alabama Folklife Association and the Women's Resource Center, a unit of Women's Initiatives at Auburn University, Common Threads is a series of six programs and workshops that promote the study, appreciation and practice of Alabama's quilting tradition. The two-day event focuses on the life and quilts of the late Mozell Benson, a 2001 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow from Waverly, Alabama.

Friday's program will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the auditorium of Auburn University's Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, 901 S. College St. The workshop on Saturday will be held from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Frank Brown Recreation Center, 235 Opelika Road. Both events are free and open to the public.

The keynote speaker for the program on Friday will be Maude Wahlman, an Endowed Professor of Global Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Wahlman will present "Mozell Benson Quilts and The African Diaspora." A friend of Benson's for nearly 40 years, Wahlman included Benson's works of art in her book, "Signs and Symbols: African Images in African American Quilts," and in 1985, Benson traveled to Africa with one of Wahlman's exhibitions of African American quilts, a project sponsored by the U.S. State Department. According to Wahlman, Benson's quilts reflect the African aesthetic of multiple patterning and demonstrate the visual equivalent of jazz or blues.

Other speakers during Friday's program include Scott Bishop, Curator of Education for the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, who will present the "Three Crosses" quilt that Benson donated to the museum. Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction professors Magdalena Garmaz and Sheri Schumacher will share their experiences working with undergraduate students and graduate students from the Design-Build master's program to conceptualize and create the Quilting Studio, a combination of residential and work space completed for Benson in August 2007.

Saturday morning Benson's daughter, Sylvia G. Stephens, will lead a quilt-making workshop for the community. She will instruct according to the "7-Step Easy Quilting Technique" that she learned as an apprentice to her mother under the Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, a division of the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Links to registration on Eventbrite are on the AFA web site page at http://www.alabamafolklife.org/content/common-threads-alabamas-quilting-traditions that is also accessible from the top right corner of the home page, www.alabamafolklife.org.

For assistance, contact the AFA by email, alabamafolklife@att.net.

Common Threads is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and funded in part by the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the "Support the Arts" Car Tag program.

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