Crystal Bridges acquires quilt from Maya Angelou

Maya’s Quilt of Life by Faith Ringgold.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has acquired Maya’s Quilt of Life, a quilt featuring the image of Maya Angelou by Faith Ringgold.

The work hung in Angelou’s home and was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for Angelou’s 61st birthday.

From a news release:

Ringgold is well-known for her painted story quilts, which unite a tradition of representational painting with the rich history of quilting in the African-American community. The border of Maya’s Quilt of Life is made from pieced-together fabric that frames Angelou, who is surrounded by flowers in her signature patterned African dress and head wrap. Handwritten texts appear on both sides of the center panel with excerpts from Angelou’s written works: Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie (1971), Gather Together In My Name (1974), The Heart of a Woman (1981), and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1970).

In the coming months, Maya’s Quilt of Life will debut in the 1940s to Now Gallery, alongside other postwar women artists already represented in the collection, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Kara Walker, and Roni Horn, who like Ringgold, cites an important American female author with her work When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes No. 859: A Doubt If It Be Us.

Maya’s Quilt of Life expands the presence of important black artists in our collection, building on other recent acquisitions of works by artists ranging from Edward Mitchell Bannister to Alma Thomas,” said museum curator Chad Alligood. “At the same time, the work bolsters a key strength of Crystal Bridges’ collection: important women artists of the postwar period. The parallels between Ringgold and Angelou are manifest in this work: both women deploy the power of written word to illuminate the experience of being a black woman in America.”