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I Keep Dreaming that Dream: The Life and Creative Genius of Mary Lee Bendolph

Video recording of a lecture by Dr. Alvia J. Wardlaw, Professor of Art History and Director/Curator of the University Museum, Texas Southern University

February 8, 2018
Hannah Blunt

In conjunction with the exhibition Piece Together: The Quilts of Mary Lee Bendolph, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum hosted Dr. Alvia J. Wardlaw to present the opening lecture on January 31, 2018. Dr. Wardlaw is a leading expert in African American art and history. During her distinguished 22-year career as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, she organized over 75 exhibitions, including the first major traveling exhibition of Gee’s Bend quilts. Dr. Wardlaw serves on the Scholarly Committee of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and is a recent recipient of the Dr. John E. Fleming Award from the Association of African American Museums. She currently serves as Professor of Art History and Director/Curator of the University Museum at Texas Southern University.

In her lecture, Dr. Wardlaw discussed Mary Lee Bendolph's Gee's Bend, Alabama-heritage, her creative work, including many of the quilts on view in the exhibition, and her artistic legacy. Dr. Wardlaw's deeply moving remarks brought the Mount Holyoke audience to its feet. "It is very very important, " she noted, "that the women of Gee's Bend become recognized as individual artists...Mary Lee Bendolph's history is rich, it is significant, and it is emotional." She described Bendolph as "a creative force," and as a woman who carries with her wisdom, dignity, beauty and energy. The artist and several of her children gave an unforgettable musical performance at the conclusion of the Q & A session.

The recording shared here is a must-watch for those who missed Dr. Wardlaw's lecture--and for those who were present, an opportunity to relive this special evening. 

-Hannah W. Blunt, Associate Curator