THE JAMES MUSEUM Opens Black Pioneers: Legacy In The American West

Carolyn Crump and her work “The Truth Hurts: Riches, Resentment, Revenge, RIOTS,” (2021) at the “Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West” exhibition at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art. Credit: Steven Le

On view September 3, 2022-January 8, 2023, Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West explores the path of Black history in the West with a timeline of original pictorial quilts.  These colorful, richly detailed works of art chronicle the arrival of Africans in the American West in 1528 all the way through the Civil Rights Movement, bringing to life forgotten stories and lesser-known chapters in our shared history.

/Selling the myth that Black people in the old West were mostly cowboys, Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West, reveals the breadth of their occupations and achievements in society, religion, education, and the arts.


Quilts were chosen as the visual medium for this exhibition because they function to highlight the intersections of African Americans in the Western Frontier while informing others about the art form and its important role in African American history.

This exhibition is organized by The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, curator, historian and artist. The 50 quilts have been created by the Women of Color Quilters Network especially for this exhibition.

“Quilts and quilt making are important to America and Black culture in particular, because the art form was historically one of the few mediums accessible to marginalized groups to tell their own story, to provide warmth for their families, and to empower them with a voice through cloth,” said Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi.

For African American women quilts have always been at the core of artistic expression, taking form in the social, economic, and spiritual lives of the women who make them. Founded by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi in 1985, Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN) is a non-profit national organization whose mission is to educate, preserve, exhibit, promote and document quilts made by African Americans.

“The James Museum is proud to put forth an exhibition that explores the Black experience in the American West,” said Executive Director of The James Museum Laura Hine. “These quilts and the stories they tell embody one of our core values; to amplify all voices of the American West, including those not often found at the forefront. We are so grateful to Dr. Mazloomi and the Women of Color Quilters Network for partnering with us to bring this vision to life.”