Friday, August 24, 2007

In Memoriam - Cuesta Benberry, Quilt Historian and Scholar

I am very saddened to report that one of the most distinguished quilt historians died yesterday. Her impeccable scholarship, her challenge to the stereotyping of quilts made by African-Americans, and her determination to blast through the indifference and apathy of the overall quilt world as it related to quilting in the African-American community are legendary.
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Following is a little information about her work:
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In 2004, the Distinguished Scholar/Lifetime Achievement Award was bestowed upon Cuesta Benberry by Faith Ringgold’s Anyone Can Fly Foundation. It was awarded “…for her groundbreaking research on the history of African-American quilt making…which uncovered the centuries long and richly diverse history of African-American quilt making in American Art..”
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In conjunction with the award, a 4-part interview of Cuesta Benberry by Faith Ringgold was video-recorded at Cuesta’s home in St. Louis, Missouri on August 18, 2004:
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Part 1 – Cuesta Benberry’s Beginnings – 35-minute vidcast
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/award/cuesta_benberry/Cuesta_Benberry_1.htm
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Part 2 – African-American Quilts – 26-minute vidcast
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/award/cuesta_benberry/Cuesta_Benberry_2.htm
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Part 3 – Exhibition Quilts – 20-minute vidcast
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/award/cuesta_benberry/Cuesta_Benberry_3.htm
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Part 4 – Contemporary Quilts – 22-minute vidcast
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/award/cuesta_benberry/Cuesta_Benberry_4.htm
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Full transcript of the interview in HTML format, with bibliography and photos:
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/award/cuesta_benberry/Cuesta_Benberry_Interview_Transcript.html
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Full transcript of the interview in PDF format; with bibliography (without photos):
http://www.anyonecanflyfoundation.org/pdf/Cuesta_Benberry_Interview_Transcript.pdf
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Additional Information:
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A prolific writer and published author, a full listing of Custa Benberry's work can be found in Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook by Kyra Hicks.
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2004 – Honored by the American Folk Art Museum with a Cuesta Benberry Day
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2004 – Donated to the American Folk Art Museum her extensive library and archival collection of rare: books, exhibition and pattern catalogs, periodicals, patterns, and periodicals; among others.
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2002 – Interviewed as a “Quilt Treasure” by the Center for the Quilt – On the website, you can “Read about Cuesta's work, view images from her books, and hear her discuss her research and insights in this Quilt Treasures web portrait.”
http://www.centerforthequilt.org/treasures/cb/index.php
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2000 – A Piece of My Soul: Quilts by Black Arkansans was published
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1992 – Always There: The African-American Presence in American Quilts was published
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1983 - Inducted into the Quilter’s Hall of Fame
http://www.quiltershalloffame.net/honorees.html
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Cuesta, we loved you – we will miss you

8 comments:

Sandy said...

I'm so sorry- she has been an inspiration for so long and will be remembered with such appreciation.

Terry said...

Lovely tribute, Gwen. I will enjoy looking at the links you provided. What a loss. What a legacy.

Dusty Haller said...

This is sad news.
Her work and scholarship is, indeed, impressive.
In her honor we'll be adding "Black Threads", "Piece of My Soul", and "Always There" to the college's library collection.
RIP

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn Magee) said...

Sandy, Terry, and Dusty - thank you all for your comments and thoughts about the passing of this wonderful person. Cuesta was a true treasure scholastically and personally and will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.

Carolyn Mazloomi said...

Dear Gwen:

Thank you for your lovely tribute. Cuesta was a treasure and will be missed. She was my mentor, friend and confidante. Her contribution to the canon of American quilt history is unparalleled. The quilt world has lost an icon.

Carolyn Mazloomi

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn Magee) said...

Carolyn, I have just been numb since learning Cuesta died despite knowing that she'd just been hanging on by a thread for the past couple of years. Her warmth, humor, passion and feistiness will be sorely missed.

Louise Schiele said...

Gwen...your tribute to Cuesta was very touching and thank you for posting the news. I heard Cuesta speak about many many years ago at one of the first quilt conferences on the West Coast and was fortunate enough to meet her pesonally and talk with her about her quest for her future in the quiltmaking world. A great loss to the entire community. My deepest thought to her family and dear friends. Louise Schiele, Sacramento, Ca

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn Magee) said...

Louise, Cuesta truly left an indelible impression on all whom she met. Please read the tribute to her by Gaye Ingram that has just been posted to the blog.