“Sowing Dissent: Quilts of Love and Protest” Exhibition Unveiled at PEG Center for Art & Activism

Newburyport, MA, March 4, 2022 – The PEG Center for Art & Activism kicks off its first art exhibition of 2022, featuring the work of three artist/activists who use quilting as a medium to address societal justice issues. “Sowing Dissent: Quilts of Love and Protest” includes quilts by Sylvia Hernandez, L’Merchie Frazier, and Penny Mateer. It is on display from March 4 through April 9 at 3 Harris Street in Newburyport. The public is invited to view the exhibition on Tuesdays through Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. and Fridays through Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

An in-person reception will be held on Thursday, March 24 from 6-8 p.m. at the PEG Center, with the artists participating by zoom from 6:30-7 p.m. 

Sylvia Hernandez is a Brooklyn-based social justice quilter whose work has been shown in museums in New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. L’Merchie Frazier is a visual and performance artist, educator, and activist, who is the Director of Education at the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket. Penny Mateer, a Pittsburgh-based artist/activist, was an artist in residence at MASS MoCA and has received numerous awards including Best of Show Fiberart International 2016.

“These artists have been creating protest quilts for decades and are highly renowned in their fields,” said PEG Center Executive Director Paula Estey. “Inspired by my trip to The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see the “Fabric of a Nation” exhibition, I was blown away by the beauty and poignance of Sylvia’s amazing quilt, “How Many More?” I am fascinated by the medium of quilts as art, as activism, as narrative, and a vehicle of change. Often made by women, quilts give a voice to the unheard, including artists of color who speak truth through the familiar context of fabric. I knew I had to bring this type of art and diversity to our local community.”

Hernandez’s artwork now on display at the PEG Center came from her series “Sacred Invocations.” Hernandez is president of the Quilters of Color Network of NYC, co-president of the Brooklyn Quilters Guild and teaches at El Puente Academy of Peace and Justice. Her quilts are in the collections of The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, El Puente, Spike Lee, and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi.

Artist/activist Mateer uses textiles and recycled materials to create art that is traditionally thought of as functional, recognizable and relatable, but that also sparks thought and discussion. Mateer’s quilts were part of her “Protest Series,” which grew out of her love of protest music in the 1960s and ‘70s. The music inspired people to question actions during the Vietnam war. With similar challenges facing our communities, nation and the world, activism is again rising as a way to address societal woes.

Visual activist Frazier has two powerful pieces from her “Freedom Rising: I Am The Story” Series at the PEG Center. A Massachusetts-based fiber artist, quilter, historian, innovator, and poet. Frazier is dedicated to maintaining collective memory for African-descended ancestors who defied the constraints of a racist society. “Ericka Huggins: Liberation Groceries” commemorates the Black Panther Party’s social mission that launched the People’s Free Food Program, which provided groceries to help the needy.

“Traditionally, quilts have been seen as a domestic craft. These innovative women have raised quiltmaking to a fine art that brings critical attention to race, economics, and other issues that confront us. I encourage everyone to come see this exhibition,” said Estey.

The PEG Center for Art & Activism is a nonprofit organization that accepts donations at www.paypal.me/pegcenter to help continue its mission. Any amount is appreciated.

About the PEG Center for Art & Activism

The mission of the PEG Center for Art & Activism is to provide our clients and visitors with the transcendent beauty of contemporary art and to be a catalyst for conscious change. We seek to elevate the quality of our community and lives through creative expression, engaging conversations, and committed action. We create and nurture programming to address human rights, social justice and the environment. Visit the PEG Center at 3 Harris Street in Newburyport, MA or follow us at www.paulaesteygallery.com for events, special programs and more. Paula Estey can be reached at 978-376-4746 or paula.estey@yahoo.com

“Fight the Power” #15 Protest Series by Penny Mateer
“Hoodies” by Sylvia Hernandez; photo by Deneka Peniston
“Ericka Huggins: Liberation Groceries” by L’Merchie Frazier