A collection of quilts that sparked an online firestorm after it was abruptly removed from a Laguna Beach bank will be installed at the Neighborhood Congregational Church on Feb. 19, Community Art Project announced Thursday.
In an interview with the Independent, Artist Allyson Allen said she felt more disappointed than surprised upon hearing Wells Fargo corporate ordered removal of the 36-quilt exhibition in partnership with the Community Art Project. The quilts were taken down after some customers complained their content was too “controversial.”
“CAP and Allyson have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the Laguna community,” CAP Board Member Faye Baglin said in a press release. “After evaluating several offers of exhibit space, CAP looks forward to making this compelling artwork available to experience at Bridge Hall at the Neighborhood Congregational Church.”
Pastor Rodrick Echols reached out to CAP to offer his church’s campus as an alternative gallery site. On Thursday, Allen described Bridge Hall as a bright and welcoming space that is ideal for her exhibit.
“Bridge Hall is the perfect space to display this work. The connecting theme of Ms. Allen’s ‘Piece-Ful Protest’ exhibit is the need for love, tolerance, and equality. Our purpose as a church is to create a world of love and justice. Ms. Allen’s art inspires a conversation we want to help flourish in our city,” Echols said in a press release.
Among the quilts is one that shows a Black man with “Enough!” above his head. Another is emblazoned with “Don’t let hate go viral.” A third has a clenched rainbow fist below “Pride – Love is Love.”
“My work is safe and I’ll only install it somewhere I know it’s safe,” she said.
Allen’s biggest concern is making sure the quilts are preserved so they can continue to be seen across the country. Allen has already promised that her quilts will move on from Laguna Beach in April.
Last year, the quilts were part of “We Are the Story,” a multi-venue initiative in Twin Cities, Minn. co-presented by Textile Center and Women of Color Quilters. The initiative was a response to racism in America following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
As an artist, Allen welcomes comments from detractors of her work.
“You put your work out there and anyone who criticizes it you have to listen to it and maybe it will help you improve. You can’t let that dictate what your next piece of work will be,” Allen said.
She wonders if those bank customers objected to her quilts because they highlight injustices they would otherwise be able to look away from. She also pointed out that extra care was taken to make sure the most politically-charged quilts hung in the second-floor gallery weren’t visible from the bank’s lobby.
Among them was a quilt emblazoned with “OMG GOP WTF?” and another depicting a red baseball cap with “Make Racism Wrong Again” written across it.
A Feb. 19 opening reception will be held from 2:30 to 5 p.m. with Allen speaking at 4 p.m. The exhibit will open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. until a closing reception on April 24.View Our User Comment Policy