David Anthone & Ron Norsworthy
East Gallery | November 20 – December 20, 2020
The work featured in Cipher is from the Another Country quilt cycle and presents multilayered narratives, each encoded with a pattern that invite audiences to unravel the tangled threads of systemic and institutional racism that have plagued and contradicted America’s proclaimed values since its inception.
DARNstudio embarked upon Another Country: A Quilt Cycle in 2016 during the nationwide movement for racial justice reignited by the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and an urgent call to confront the structural ambivalence that enduringly reinforces the taking of black lives with impunity. A series-in-process of thirteen quilts made of souvenir matchbooks, the project is inspired by the Underground Railroad quilts whose secret codes were alleged to be used as signposts to help the enslaved seeking freedom and safe(r) haven in the North. Each quilt in the cycle’s matchbook covers bear logos memorializing the unarmed black victim of police violence, stand-your-ground policy, and/or racial terrorism and the place where it happened. The backs of the matchbooks contain alphanumeric codes comprised of the first and last initial of the victim and date of their death.
Like their abolitionist antecedents, these quilts serve as both guide and artifact. They prompt us to decipher their messages by mapping their stitched-together matchbook surfaces, ersatz souvenirs of places and events that collectively have brought us to this time of reflection and reckoning. The work unapologetically challenges us to imagine a just future by daring to remind us of an unjust present.