Neighborhood Portrait

The Neighborhood Portrait Quilt is part of a permanent exhibition that tells a story of important leaders and residents.

quilt4

NEIGHBORHOOD PORTRAIT:
Documenting the Witherspoon-Jackson Community
Sands Gallery, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts
Permanent Exhibition



The Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center is fortunate to be located within the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, an African-American community rich in historical significance vital to the fabric of the town. Neighborhood Portrait is a permanent exhibition that tells a story of important leaders and residents, like Paul Robeson, and key institutions that have made this neighborhood a vibrant part of Princeton’s cultural life. Utilizing materials drawn from the collection of Historical Society of Princeton, the exhibition includes documents and photographs that illustrate the history of the building site where the Paul Robeson Center is situated. These formal and informal snapshots help narrate the history of racial segregation and the eventual social integration of Princeton’s residents, and even more so, the cultural strivings of Princeton’s African-American residents to create and build a deep and full community.

 

On Sunday, September 11, 2005, at 1:00 pm, in the loft studio of the Paul Robeson Building, the Arts Council unveiled the centerpiece of the future building’s permanent exhibit of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood—an original, hand-crafted quilt created through the transfer of over ninety photographs that together illustrate the history of the neighborhood. The photographs were contributed, solicited, and selected by four neighborhood residents, who also chose the quilt material and determined the order of the images. They also collected on small squares that form the perimeter of the quilt: the signatures of many of the current residents of the John-Witherspoon.

 

The quilt was crafted by local quilter and educator Gail Mitchell. At the celebration, Ms. Mitchell spoke about the project and about the significance and intricacies of quilt making. The neighborhood residents involved in the creation of the quilt—Shirley Satterfield, Minnie Craig, Lois Craig, and Cynthia (Chip) Fisher—were also on hand to share with the audience their knowledge of the neighborhood and the historical context of the quilt. During the afternoon, long-time residents of the neighborhood who had not yet signed the quilt did so proudly. “This event is the culmination of years of planning and of an ongoing collaboration,” said board member Janet Stern, who, as the Arts Council’s program director, first suggested the idea of a quilt to the neighborhood’s residents. “The project brought together people who might not otherwise have crossed paths, and that is just one of the reasons why we are so excited about it. It was also a pleasure to watch the neighborhood volunteers become more and more enthused as the photos evoked memories and discussions about people, places, and events from the past,” added Ms. Stern. “We were so privileged just to be there and to listen in on these personal reflections on the remarkable history of the neighborhood in which the Arts Council is situated. And then to see that history portrayed through the esteemed art form of quilt making is gratifying beyond imagination.”

 

The quilt will be accompanied by captions that identify each photo. Following its unveiling at the Arts Council, the quilt joined the Preserving our Past exhibition at the Trenton City Museum at the Ellarslie Mansion. The quilt returned to Princeton to exhibit at the Arts Council’s conTEMPORARY Arts Center throughout the month of February in celebration of Black History Month and was a component in the Black Arts Extravaganza on February 26. The quilt traveled “on tour” to the neighborhood churches and other institutions before it took up its permanent residence in the Arts Council’s expanded facility.

 

More Exhibitions

Interwoven Stories

View a selection of 20 pages from Interwoven Stories, a community stitching project created by 2016 Artist-in-Residence Diana Weymar. More than 200 3-hole fabric pages, stitched with memories, places, and people, were created by Interwoven Stories participants, speaking to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment and creativity of this community. Interwoven Stories Update: Pages from The University of Puget Sound and the Arts Council of Princeton collections currently on exhibit: The Municipal Hall of Princeton, Arts Council of Princeton, The Zen Hospice Project (San Francisco), and

Narrative Paintings

Featured in the Lower-Level Gallery at the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts is Narrative Paintings by longtime ACP instructor, Charles David Viera. Viera’s narrative works have rarely been displayed as a group and are the focus of this exhibition which coincides with a special class Narrative Painting: Making a Statement which will be offered at the ACP during the winter semester.   Charles David Viera’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum ,The Nassau County Museum, Adam Gimbel Gallery ,and the

Transition: Vietnam

Vietnam is a country in transition. Intrigued by the rapid transformation of Vietnam, one of the fastest growing economies of the world, Mark Ludak and Andrew Cohen have returned multiple times to photograph this region. A dynamic, youthful country, especially seen in mega-cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Sai Gon), it is a country where the traditional and contemporary are reconstituted into distinctively Vietnamese manifestations.

Heroes of Comic Art

The Arts Council of Princeton presents Heroes of Comic Art, featuring original published artworks by Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan, John Buscema, Jack Davis, Steve Ditko and other great artists that created many of the comic heroes that we enjoy in today’s books and films.   Each artist in this exhibition have made major contributions to the history of the comic books as we know them. In 1940, Jack Kirby and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character,

PSO “Listen Up!” Exhibition 2018

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s 2018 Listen Up! Exhibition features works of visual art and writing created by area middle school students, inspired by the LARK Quartet’s October performance of Schulhoff’s Concerto for String Quartet and Winds with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. Join us to celebrate these students’ artistry at the Opening Reception on Tuesday, January 30 at 4pm.

Cows in Our Town

Cows in Our Town is an udderly exciting public art collaboration created by the Arts Council of Princeton and McCarter Theatre Center. Twenty one cows were designed by diverse local artists and placed in popular locations around Princeton from December 2017 – February 2018. Learn more here! The cows have come together to be shown as a group for the first time on the second floor of the Princeton Public Library. The Cows in Our Town are available for sale! 50% of the sale price

Donor Wheel

More than 2,000 donors are acknowledged in this one-of-a-kind sculpture by Joshua Kirsch