Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Textile artist Gwendolyn A. Magee never intended to tell stories through intricate needlework, but after taking a quilting workshop to make quilts for her family, she discovered an outlet for her creativity.
"I only intended to make the one (quilt) I learned on, and one for each of my two daughters. By the time I finished the one for my youngest daughter, I was hooked on it, and it became my primary hobby," she says. "At some point I became dissatisfied and started moving from traditional quilts to art quilts."
Since 1995, the Jacksonian has used nontraditional quilting to tell a narrative about African American history from slavery to the present day. She also creates abstract and figurative pieces. Each piece has unique flare such as her colorful figurative quilt, "Nubian Queen" and her narrative quilt, "Our New Day Begun."
Recently, the Mississippi Museum of Art selected Magee as a community representative to speak at the Institute of Museum and Library Services award ceremony in Washington, D.C. The IMLS selected the museum, among several other facilities in the country, to receive a National Medal--the nation's highest honor for outstanding museums and libraries. Magee, who has exhibited her work at the Jackson museum and museums from coast-to-coast, will speak about the museum's impact on the community and Mississippi arts scene.
The High Point, North Carolina native says her mother immersed her in arts and crafts at a young age. Her mother, however, did not have a knack for sewing.
Currently, Magee, 67, is working on a quilted series to illustrate slavery, and a series on Hurricane Katrina titled "Katrina Narratives: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place," which she hopes to showcase next spring.
Magee earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from the Women's College at the University of North Carolina in 1963. She moved to Jackson in 1972 with her husband D.E. Magee.
Congratulation Gwen! You are truly an artist to admire. I still have the marble doll from one of your earlier projects.