Museum exhibition showcases work of Calumet City fiber Artist


“Ancestral Threads: The Fiber Art of Sherise Wright” was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. (Photo courtesy of IDNR)

A new exhibition, “Ancestral Threads: The Fiber Art of Sherise Wright”, opened Friday, May 28 at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. The exhibition celebrates the art and tradition of African American quilting through the work of the late Calumet City fiber artist Sherise Marie Wright.

Wright learned to quilt from her great-grandmother. At age 3, she found herself enamored by the beautiful colors of fabric and the way they sprawled across the floor. With encouragement from her great-grandmother, she continued the legacy of Black needlework on her own. Wright later said, “My overall goal as a fiber artist is to create quilts that resonate with my spirit and soul. My quilts are a diary of my heart and spirit.”

“We are honored to present the fiber art of Sherise Wright, which explores her life as an educator, nature lover, and Black artist,” said Illinois State Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “The beautifully intricate textiles capture snapshots of Wright’s inspirations. At the same time, Wright’s words that accompany each piece bring her art to life.”

Vincent “June” L.J. Chappelle II, a native of Chicago’s South Side with a lifelong interest in Africana history, is the exhibition’s curator.

“Quilting has been a significant part of Black history for more than two centuries, and it continues to flourish as a way to convey stories and messages. Each stitch carries with it an element of love and care,” Chappelle said. “When I first viewed Wright’s work, I was intrigued instantly. I found myself thinking about the importance of Black needlework. I knew then that I wanted others to know about this seldom-spoken history.”

“Ancestral Threads: The Fiber Art of Sherise Wright” was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Springfield Area Arts Council.

The Illinois State Museum will feature the exhibition through September. Admission is free.