Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts
June has long been embraced as a month of celebration and new beginnings. It is verdant, vibrant, and bright, especially as we head toward the summer solstice, when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and gives us the day with the longest period of daylight. It is a month rich in milestones for many families whose children, grandchildren, and dear friends are graduating from school and moving to the next phases of their lives.
The national recognition of Juneteenth is an important celebration of progress to commemorate the day in 1865 that word of freedom finally reached enslaved people in Texas. We are pleased and relieved that this date is now acknowledged not only locally but at the federal level. It’s a step forward. This day of liberty is steeped in African American tradition and is also an opportunity for all of us to affirm our commitment to the pursuit of freedom and justice for all, and underscore that there is still so much work to do in the name of equality and real community action.
Please note the Museum will be closed on Saturday, June 19, to recognize this important holiday. We will reopen on Sunday, June 20, and hope you will join us for our Juneteenth and Father’s Day workshop, a day of artistic expression, celebration of family, and community building led by artist Kay Douglas.
June is also Pride Month, when the world’s LGBTQIA+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. Pride gatherings are rooted in the arduous history of groups who have struggled for decades and longer to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are. The HRM is thrilled to be partnering with Yonkers Pride again to bring awareness and relevant programming for all this summer, with an author talk this month and our first Museum Mini Ball in July.
Our new exhibitions, Wall Power! Spectacular Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum and Collection Spotlight: Storied Quilts from the Hudson River Museum intersect with both of these national milestones and celebrations, while demonstrating the impact of community building and skilled technique. We are pleased to partner with the American Folk Art Museum to bring stunning examples of this art form, which has deep roots in American life and experience. For more than three centuries, the artists have created highly individualized expressions in this medium that is simultaneously yielding and unforgiving, and that challenges the maker to test the limits imposed by cutting and piecing bits of fabric together. The quilts represent nuanced designs developed by Amish communities, splendid examples by African American makers, and traditional nineteenth-century patterns that formed a foundation for generations of quiltmakers to come. We are deeply grateful to The Coby Foundation for their generous sponsorship of these exhibitions and hope you will all join us for one of the sewing circles we have planned in our Courtyard.
I cannot speak about June without a celebratory acknowledgment of our latest graduating class of HRM Junior Docents. After four years of dedicated mentorship here at the Museum, these outstanding teens will now transition to colleges around the US, bringing their leadership and critical thinking skills to such institutions as Brown University, Connecticut College, New York University, University of Southern California, and Westchester Community College, and having amassed over $3 million in scholarship offers. As our own thanks, each graduate also receives an honorarium from the Delaney Sisters/Draper Scholarship and a supporter level membership from the HRM so that they have reciprocal privileges at hundreds of museums throughout the country.
We were especially honored that Congressman Jamaal Bowman made time to address our teens with a dynamic speech during our End of Year Ceremony!
There is so much growth to keep building on this momentum. Like a grand quilt, let’s all bring a piece of ourselves to the mix, lift bold ideas up, and create something better together than we could ever accomplish on our own.
See you at the HRM,
Image: Mary Maxtion (American, b. 1924). Boligee, Alabama. Snail Trail Quilt, 1990. Cotton, 89 ½ × 77 inches. American Folk Art Museum, New York. Museum purchase made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, with matching funds from The Great American Quilt Festival 3, 1991.13.2. Photographer unidentified.