From our home in New York City, the American Folk Art Museum stands in solidarity with those confronting racism and championing justice and equality.
We have spent the last days mourning, listening, and reflecting. Many artists, including those we are honored to have in our collection, have been pushed to the margins of their own communities or institutionalized due to ignorance, prejudice, and racism. Their work testifies to the power of art to transmit the pain and loss that they have experienced firsthand and what it means to be resilient in the face of injustice.
Our museum is guided by the principle that art born of personal experience rather than formal artistic training deserves a visible and prominent place in the world. Works like Jessie B. Telfair’s Freedom Quilt – which was made after Telfair, an African American woman, lost her job as a result of trying to register to vote – markedly demonstrate the power of art to uplift, but also remind us that oppression remains a persistent threat to our friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
To those everywhere who have been touched by intolerable acts of senseless violence, we are grieving with you. Black lives matter.
Freedom Quilt; Jessie B. Telfair (1913–1986); Parrott, Georgia 1983; Cotton, with pencil; 74 x 68 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York; Gift of Judith Alexander in loving memory of her sister, Rebecca Alexander, 2004.9.1. Photo by Gavin Ashworth