At center of this exhibition, the monumental installation Birth of a Nation (2014) represents a Black woman nursing a white infant against the backdrop of the first official flag of the United States. Suspended above a mound of earth, the quilt will be surrounded by Towns’s Story Quilts (2016–2019), a cycle of works in luminous fabrics and glass beads that chronicle the life of Nat Turner and the 1831 rebellion he led against slavery. A pair of quilted oval portraits of Nat and Cherry Turner (2018) adds a significant dimension to this narrative, considering the role of a marriage in historic events.
This exhibition is presented by Art + Practice in collaboration with The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and is curated by Cecilia Wichmann, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at The BMA.
Stephen Towns, Birth of a Nation, 2014. Natural and synthetic fabric, polyester and cotton thread, metallic thread, coffee and tea stain, acrylic paint. 90 x 66 inches. Private collection.