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Quilt #15, Harmonics 2

© Sanford Biggers. Courtesy of David Castillo Gallery, Miami Beach, Florida. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

Quilt #15, Harmonics 2

Artist: Sanford Biggers (Born in Los Angeles, California, 1970)
Culture: American
Date: 2012
Medium: Fabric-treated acrylic, spray paint, and cotton on repurposed quilt
79 1/2 × 80 3/4 inches (201.93 × 205.11 cm)
Frame: 85 3/4 × 85 3/4 × 3 inches (217.81 × 217.81 × 7.62 cm)
Classification: Textile
Credit Line: Gift of Paula Cooper in honor of Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher
Label Text:For this work, Sanford Biggers painted organic designs on a quilt from the mid-1800s. Biggers relates Quilt #15, Harmonics 2 to astronomy, music, and the role such textiles played on the Underground Railroad. Some quilts were used as signposts for safe houses along the secret network of routes from southern slave states to northern free states and Canada. Biggers has referred to renowned African American abolitionist Harriet Tubman as an “astronaut” who used the North Star as a guide while leading slaves to freedom.

Astronomers often use grids to identify and locate stars, constellations, and galaxies. In this work, the quilt itself provides a grid upon which Biggers has drawn his star chart or map. The central design on this work, a five-pointed star, is derived from Johannes Kepler’s astrological theories of the harmonies of the universe, but also references harmonic fifths in music and the five-pointed star used in quilt patterns.

The clouds beneath Biggers’s golden star allude to the Promised Land, and the form is derived from Tibetan Tangka representations of the heavens. The layered imagery draws connections between African American history and symbols of the universe, mathematics, music, and spirituality, illustrating the artist’s ability to create complex works that visualize human experiences and the interconnectedness of all things, from the Southern U.S. to East Asia.

Object number: 2015.1.1