Workshop with E.D. Nixon Elementary
students, August 2008
Riché Richardson, who was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, made her first portrait art quilt in 1999 and has been developing this project for over 15 years. She has been diligent in producing various crafts since her childhood from as early as age nine, when she first began to focus on sewing, crocheting and collecting dolls. She taught herself to knit and also eventually made some soft-sculpture dolls during her teen years. Her beautiful art quilts are often described by people who have seen them on exhibition as quilts unlike any that they have ever seen before, as evidenced in the 60 pieces featured in her most recent exhibition, which also includes some of her earliest work.
The distinct signature style of portrait art quilting that she has developed draws on intricate design techniques and incorporates painting and mixed-media to produce hand-stitched, richly detailed, three-dimensional quilts. Her art quilts often unfold as multi-year projects and in some cases have taken several years to develop. With felt providing their foundational fabric and form, her quilting subjects are drawn and painted in a classic style and designed with features such as synthetic hair, eyelashes, and fingernails. They incorporate an eclectic range of materials, including hats, jewelry, shoes, ribbons, orthodontic braces, buttons, safety pins, boas, fruit, beading, flowers, eye glasses, mirrors, and ties, among other items. "Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris: The Appliqué Art Quilts of Riché Deianne Richardson," pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and other anniversaries in Civil Rights Movement history in 2015. It is dedicated to the memories of her grandparents, Joe Richardson and Emma Lou Jenkins Richardson. This exhibition expands the range of special effects that Riché Richardson incorporates in developing her art quilts and takes her architectural quilting style and the notion of the “built quilt” in some new and quite exciting directions. Thematically speaking, "Portraits II" continues to develop all of the foundational series of her first quilt show, which debuted at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum in 2oo8, and incorporates several more series. The multiple series in which she develops her portrait art quilts include “Family,” “Political,” “Paris,” “Hollywood,” “Black History,” “The Civil Rights Movement,” “African American Literature,” and “Alabama Women,” and new versions of “Daughters of Africa” and “Delta.” In 2013, Richardson served as the invited speaker at the Rosa Parks Museum’s gala 100th birthday celebration of Rosa Parks and donated her quilt in honor of the heroine to the museum, which features this piece in its permanent collection.
The family quilts recall May Day celebrations in Montgomery, Alabama dating back to the 1960s, as well as Easter parades, school programs, and birthday celebrations. They recreate family debutante portraits from the 1970s to the 2000s. In the process, they capture a side of black life, particularly in the U.S. South, less frequently discussed. As curator Georgette Norman describes “Portraits” in the 2008 catalog for the show at Rosa Parks Museum, it “draws on aspects of Montgomery and Civil Rights history, but focuses on family showing the dignity and beauty that always existed . . . Portraits . . . captures in new form family photos and memories, and also treats political and cultural figures from Martin Luther King to Scarlett O’Hara.“ The new show is grounded by a Montgomery Bus Boycott Series that features quilts honoring Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a tribute to the 60th anniversary year of the historic movement that helped to lead off commemorations in the city of Montgomery in 2015. It features several large installation-style “torso quilts,” including the large triple quilt installation in the debutante series, which is replete with digital media such as light and sound features and also draws on principles of geometry, engineering, and architecture in its development.
The body of quilts from “Portraits” is the subject of the short film by Anne Crémieux and Géraldine Chouard entitled A Portrait of the Artist (2008), which was shot on location in Paris, France, and highlighted an interview with the scholar Patricia A. Turner. Pat Turner also discusses the “Portraits” project in her book Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African American Quilters (2009). Quilts from “Portraits” are featured in Lauren Cross’s film The Skin Quilt Project (2010). Richardson’s work has been exhibited at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Eastville Community Historical Society in Sag Harbor, New York, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama, the Carol Tatkon Center Art Gallery at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the Mairie du 5e in Paris. In January of 2009 she was invited to Paris as a “Cultural Envoy” by the U.S. Embassy in France for the opening of its national quilt exhibition, “Un Patchwork de Cultures,” under the sponsorship of a grant from the U.S. State Department in its Speaker Series. On this visit to Paris, she was honored with a talk, reception, exhibition and film screening at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in the city, an event attended by an audience of 150 people. She is currently an associate professor at Cornell University.
"In this exhibition, she draws on aspects of Montgomery and Civil Rights history, but focuses on family showing the dignity and beauty that has always existed. Not just any family but, her family. Portraits: From Montgomery to Paris: Appliqué Art Quilts, captures in new form old family photos and memories, and also treats political and cultural figures from Martin Luther King to Scarlett O'Hara."
Georgette Norman, Director, Troy University's Rosa Parks Museum, 2000-2014
n.d. Patricia A. Turner and Riché Richardson, ed., Portraits of an Artist: The Journey of Riché Richardson’s Mixed-Media Art Quilts from Montgomery to Paris to Montgomery (in progress)
Ph.D. Duke University, American literature, 1998; Certificate, African and African American Studies B.A. Spelman College, English major, 1993; minors in philosophy and women's studies
Visited Paris, France as a “Cultural Envoy” to the U.S. Embassy as a guest in its Speaker Series Program January 10-17, 2009 with a grant under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. Visit in tandem with the year-long “Un Patchwork de Cultures” exhibition arranged by the Cultural Affairs Office
1992-Present Mixed media appliqué art quilts are handmade, three-dimensional, andincorporate drawing, painting and a range of other intricate design techniques, including architectural elements, to produce an art quilt style that resembles portraiture. Signature project includes "Portraits" and "Portraits II," the basis for continuing experiments in developing a vast array of other art quilt design techniques.
“Rosa Parks, Whose ‘No’ in 1955 Launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Was HeardAround the Word (Black History Series, Alabama Women Series, and Civil Rights Movement Series). Installed in August, 2013. The Rosa Parks Museum. TroyUniversity. Montgomery, Alabama.
n.d. “Portraits: La Finale” (in progress); completing 20 new mixed-media art quilts to build upon the past portraits show for upcoming solo museum exhibition of 80 art quilts
2015 “Portraits II: From Montgomery to Paris: The Appliqué Art Quilts of Riché Deianne Richardson.” The show features 30 new art quilts, including 6 larger quilt installations that took on average four years to produce. It also includes the original 19 “Portraits” from 2008, plus a retrospective of earlier works, encompassing a total of 58 quilts and 2 dolls in all for a total of 60 works. The exhibition includes series such as "Family," "Political," "Hollywood," "Paris," "Delta," "Civil Rights," "Black History," and "Alabama Women," and other embedded series within the family series, including "Debutantes," "Wedding," "Education," "Babies," and "Self-Portraits." This exhibition is grounded by the Civil Rights Movement Series featuring figures from the Montgomery Bus Boycott: Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and E.D. Nixon. Its centerpiece is a deluxe, triangulated triple-quilt panel installation in the "Debutante Series" within the "Family Series" that incorporates light and sound features, including a musical soundtrack that reverberates around the gallery room, and that draws on principles of architecture, engineering and geometry, along with digital media. The Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University, Montgomery, Alabama. January 10-March 27, 2015. Curator, Daniel Neil, with Georgette Norman, former director, Rosa Parks Museum. Exhibition print photography also by Neil, Auburn, Alabama.
2013 Quilt Exhibition in honor of visit of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrision. Hoyt FullerRoom, Africana Studies, Cornell University. Featured five works, including the Toni Morrison Quilt and the Obama quilts. March 7, 2013; organized by administrative staff
2009 The U.S. Ambassador’s Residence.
Featured three works, including two from “Paris Series” in tandem with talk, reception and film screening, including art quilts featuring Simone de Beauvoir and Josephine Baker. Also featured a work from “Family” series, “JoAnn and ‘Junior Man.’ January 14, 2009; organized by Géraldine Chouard and Sophie Nadeau.
2008 "Portraits from Montgomery to Paris: Mixed Media Appliqué Art Quilts by Riché Deianne Richardson. Le Début." Includes four inaugural series-"Family," "Paris,"Political" and "Hollywood"-and features three installations. Range of quilts featured in exhibition incorporates themes ranging from education and the debutante tradition in the U.S. South to Gone with the Wind and the Civil Rights Movement. Show featured 19 works from quilting repertoire. Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University, Montgomery, Alabama. July-August 2008; extended through September. Curator, Georgette Norman, Director, Rosa Parks Museum and Library Founder and formerly director of Alabama African American Arts Alliance. Exhibition print photographer, Keith Stevenson, Berkeley, California