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Spivey’s Quilts Stitch Together African American Culture and History
By Daniella Masterson, Contributing Writer
Published June 22, 2022

Local Artist’s Quilts are Exhibiting at the Craft Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles  

Carlos Spivey teaching a quilting class. (courtesy photo)

Carlos Spivey’s quilt collection exhibiting at the Craft Contemporary art museum in Los Angeles is an intersection between Africa and contemporary Black America.  

His colorful exhibition titled “The Sum of the Parts: Dimensions in Quilting” are magical ancestral canvases that stitch together the African diaspora, slavery, and images of current-day Black family, love, and spirituality.  

“One time I was exhibiting my work and a young Black boy between the age of eight-and-10-years-old came to my booth.  He was fixated on a picture I painted called Lunar Landing,” recalled Spivey while working in his studio in Inglewood. 

Hearts Volts quilt by Carlos Spivey (Courtesy photo)

 “This painting shows a strong, well-built Black male angel carrying a Black queen as if just landing on the moon. He said, ‘Wow! I ain’t never seen a Black man angel before.’ And I responded, ‘Neither had I until I painted one,” said Spivey, adding, “Angels in folklore protect people and keep them safe. Black  men are always seen as predators.” 

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Although that encounter happened a few years ago,  it left an indelible impression on Spivey. That fateful conversation portrayed the impact of intergenerational institutionalize racism. 

“It was like his eyes were saying I’ve seen Black men handcuffed and beaten by police; I’ve seen Black men being  lazy; I’ve seen Black men as criminals in movies like New Jack City…,” said Spivey. “I bet if I had a picture of a Black man handcuffed, he would have kept walking.”   

Queen Mother quilt by Carlos Spivey (Courtesy photo)

Spivey is one of five artists participating in The Sum of the Parts  exhibit at Craft Contemporary, located at 5814 Wilshire Blvd on Los Angeles’ Museum Row across from the George C. Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits.  

The display investigates core aspects of quilting including abstraction, pattern making, and how memories are embedded in materials.  The exhibit will end on September 11, 2022. 

Spivey recently led a one-day quilting workshop at the gallery for people of all ages. Approximately 80 people attended. The workshop “helps people to connect with the artists and gives them a deeper relationship with the works on display in the gallery,” said Billy Ray Vincent, the director of schools and family programs.   

 

Nefesha Ruth attended Spivey’s workshop. (Courtesy photo)

Having a Bachelor’s degree in fine art and a Master’s degree in film and animation from UCLA, Spivey also works with acrylics, oils, and glass. He also makes African American-inspired stained-glass windows. 

 Spivey believes that art plays a critical role in teaching and affirming Black culture as much as film, television, and literature. He said art depicts Black identity  our ethnicity, our religion, where we live and our lived experiences   Black identity.  

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Quilting helped me to realize that I am a powerful Black man.  Doing art helped me to realize I am,” said Spivey. 

NeFesha Ruth was visiting from Fresno when fate directed her to Spivey’s quilting lab. Ruth is also a writer, cultural practitioner, and founder of @Blackfolk.art. 

Carlos Spivey and Daniella Masterson (Courtesy photo)

“Carlos has given us a communal space to work on art and to be able to meet him and to see his art in the gallery has  been such an enlightening experience,” she said. “Quilting is a place of healing.”  

Fana Baba Dayo said that quilting reaffirms who she is as a Black woman. 

“Carlos is very inspirational because the work that he does is culturally specific,” said Dayo also an artist.  

“ It brings to life the events that we experience every day.  His art comes to life when you look at it,” said Dayo. 

For more information on Spivey, visit www.carlosspiveyart.com  For information on the exhibit cost of admission, operating hours and calendar of events, visit www.craftcontemporary.org. `

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