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Mikel Elam, Morgan Nitz, Black Quantum Futurism, the Quilts of Gees Bend, plus opportunities!

Today's news is filled with local interest: Artist Mikel Elam was asked to reimagine the Liberty Bell and what it symbolizes. He fashioned a sculptural mask called "A muzzle to silence you," from materials that suggest the history of enslaved Africans. Wow. Meanwhile, Artblog's co-pilot, Morgan Nitz, is publishing a series of interviews in the Philadelphia Citizen; Rasheedah Phillips is keynote speaker at a Black Quantum Futurism Unconference in New York; and Betty Leacraft introduces us to jigsaw puzzles of the Gees Bend quilts. Meanwhile, solid job opportunities at Art Ability; open call for art at Art of the State; and the Blanton Bakeoff (bake a cake that resembles art in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art!)



Mixed media painting and sculpture of a dark blue background with eyes, a cross stitch frame with a liberty bell in the center, bounded ropes, and cut outs of canvas glued to the edges.
Mikel Elam’s “A muzzle to silence you,” 2022. Mixed medium of Acrylic Paint, Paint Markers, Ink, Paper, Leather, embroidery hoop and rope mounted on Canvas. Cutout to reveal a world map mounted on wood panel. 12”x9”

Mikel Elam reimagines the Liberty Bell

For the Inquirer’s series A MORE PERFECT UNION, a project examining systemic and institutional racism, five artists were asked to reimagine American symbols that originated in Philadelphia. See the photo spread and story!

From the Inquirer’s Instagram:
The Philadelphia Inquirer asked five Philly-based Black and Latino artists to reinterpret a collection of American icons that got their start in the city — the Liberty Bell from @mikelartist, the sousaphone from @mz.icar, the Stetson hat from @dusttodawnfashionsinc, Benjamin Franklin’s kite and key from @bynicolemedina, and the American flag from @kimberlymcglonn.

From from Mikel’s section of the story:
AFROFUTURIST ARTIST MIKEL ELAM remembers when he first glimpsed the Liberty Bell on a fifth-grade field trip and learned that it meant freedom. It was only years later that he understood the bell’s call was not so simple. On the most fundamental level, a slaveholder chose its inscription.

“The Liberty Bell kind of represents, ‘This is liberty, but is it liberty for everyone?’’ Elam said.

Morgan Nitz (yes! Artblog’s Morgan!) byline in Philadelphia Citizen
Morgan Nitz publishes the first in a series of interviews sponsored by the Forman Arts Initiative in the Philadelphia Citizen. Yay, Morgan! It’s a great interview with Shannon Maldonado, founder & creative director of YOWIE. Check back on April 20th for the next interview in the series!

Purple puzzle box, 1,000 piece puzzle of "Gee'd Bend: Equal Justice," a quilt artwork with purple, blue, pink, and white stripes in different directions in four quadrants.
“Gees Bend Quilt puzzle,” quilt by Essie Bendolph Pettway, one of the original Gees Bend Quilters. Puzzle published by Paulson Fontaine Press in Berkeley, California

Puzzling out the Quilts of Gees Bend
Our good friend, Betty Leacraft says: “You’ll want one or both quilt puzzles by Gee’s Bend Matriarch Mary Lee Bendolph and her daughter Essie Bendolph Pettway.” What?! 1,000 piece Puzzles of the Gees Bend quilts? Who wouldn’t want to spend all that quality time looking at and reflecting on the greatness of these quilts? We may be late to this party (we see that the puzzles are available everywhere online!), but we are assuming, in optimism, that the quilters have licensed and are receiving royalties from all sales of the quilt puzzles. Artblog was there when the Gees Bend quilters sang in front of their quilts at their showing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2008 — listen at the link. Or read the wonderful story by the late Frank Bramblett, who grew up in small-town Alabama, talking about the importance of the quilts, what they represent, and how we should all know their story.

From the website of the Textile Center, A National Center for Textile Art: 
An extraordinary 750-piece puzzle that portrays an intricate, geometric-patterned quilt in mesmerizing shades of teal, lavender, pink, and royal blue stitched by Essie Bendolph Pettway, a member of the historic Gee’s Bend quilting community, and published by Paulson Fontaine Press in Berkeley, California.

Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times described the quilts from Gee’s Bend as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” The Gee’s Bend community has a history of quilting that goes back to its formerly enslaved ancestors. The quilts, originally intended for comfort and household use, are celebrated for their bold abstract patterns and dramatic colorways. This 20 x 26-inch puzzle, featuring a quilt pieced together in glowing shades of royal blue, lavender, pink, and teal, is a superb example of this tradition. As you assemble it you will see a work of art come together under your hands.” More information and to shop.


Black Quantum Futurism: Time Zone Protocols — April 4- April 18, 2022
Parsons School of Design, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, 66 Fifth Avenue at 13th Street, New York City – Exhibition Open daily 12–6 pm EST, Thursdays late until 8 pm. More information about the exhibition here.

Accompanying the exhibition is the Prime Meridian Unconference — Friday, April 15, through Sunday, April 17, 2022Register for the Unconference

Developed out of Rasheedah Phillips’s ongoing practice as a member of Black Quantum Futurism, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics presents Time Zone Protocols, the accompanying Prime Meridian Unconference, and debuts the digital project
The exhibition and Unconference explore the implications of the 1884 International Meridian Conference (IMC), a convening that established a prime meridian, enforcing a universal time standard. Tracing the “Protocols of the Proceedings,” the written and unwritten political agendas and social agreements that underlie Westernized time constructs, Phillips examines the ways in which time protocols reglautate, catalyze, and perpetuate systems of oppression that deny marginalized people access to and agency over the temporal domains of the past and present, with a focus on Black communities in the US. Time Zone Protocols and the Prime Meridian Unconference rewrite and rezone dominant time structures, proposing alternative protocols for new, equitable futures. More information about the exhibition and conference.


Art Ability at Bryn Mawr Rehab seeks Curator and Outreach Community Coordinator – Deadline asap

Art Ability has 2 current job openings – our curator and coordinator roles. These are both part-time positions (24-hours a week) with full benefits! If you know anyone interested in the positions, please share the job descriptions. We are hoping to fill these roles ASAP as the annual event in November will be here before we know it. I’d be happy to talk with anyone who is looking for more insight before applying.

Art Ability Curator – Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital (Malvern, PA)

Art Ability Community Outreach Program Coordinator – Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital (Malvern, PA)

Open call for PA Annual Art of the State Juried Exhibition​ – Deadline May 6

The State Museum of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation want to remind artists and craftspeople to submit applications to exhibit their work in the annual Art of the State. Now in its 54th year, this acclaimed juried exhibition boasts a tradition of presenting highly creative art by Pennsylvanians, chosen by a distinguished panel of jurors.

Art of the State is open to Pennsylvania residents who are at least 18 years of age. Artists will compete in five categories: painting, work on paper, sculpture, craft, and photography/digital media. Entries to the competition must be submitted online. Additional information and the link to enter are available at The application deadline is Friday, May 6, 2022.

More than $4,000 in cash awards will be presented. Awards for first place ($500), second place ($300), and third place ($200) will be given in each of the five categories. The William D. Davis Memorial Award for Drawing ($250) and the Art Docents’ Choice Award ($300) will also be presented. Art of the State is scheduled to open to the public on-site at The State Museum on Sunday, September 11, 2022, and will close January 15, 2022.

Side by side comparison of "Forma Negra," an abstract red and black artwork (right); and a piece of cake with white icing, inside of which is red and black cake mimicking the artwork (left).
Cake art from the Blanton Museum of Art Bakeoff, 2021 – Sawarak layer cake inspired by José Pedro Costigliolo’s “Forma Negra”

Blanton Museum of Art Bakeoff – Deadline May 15, 2022 at 11:59pm Central Time

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin invites art lovers and bakers of all levels and ages to participate in the Blanton’s third annual virtual Bake-Off. Participants in Central Texas and beyond are encouraged to make edible recreations of artworks from the museum’s collection. Started in 2020 as part of the Blanton’s #MuseumFromHome program, the bake-off has become a popular annual event with hundreds of online voters choosing the winners. Last year’s winning creations included a Sawarak layer cake inspired by José Pedro Costigliolo’s Forma Negra (pictured) and a pancake inspired by Fernando Botero’s Santa Rosa de Lima según Vásquez.

New this year, entries will be accepted in three categories: Under-18, Adult Amateur, and Adult Professional. Participants can submit images of their creations via email at or by tagging @BlantonMuseum and using #BlantonBakeOff on Instagram or Facebook. A public vote to pick a winner in all three categories will take place on the Blanton’s social media pages on World Baking Day, Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Prizes for the winning entries include gift cards from Quack’s Bakery and La Pâtisserie, as well as a membership package to the Blanton.

When: The Blanton Bake-Off opens Wednesday, April 20, 2022. The deadline to submit entries is Sunday, May 15, 2022 at 11:59pm CT.
Where: Follow the contest on the Blanton’s Facebook and Instagram pages at #BlantonBakeOff
More information at: