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Sedrick Huckaby's "The Day We Talked a New Talk" at Valley House

Quilts have long been misunderstood. People have considered them craft, pretty blankets sewn by women with too much time on their hands. Although many quilts are quite beautiful, they are also incredibly powerful. Frontier women crafted them to shelter their families from the dangerous cold. Slaves created them as creative outlets in otherwise austere lives. And, some say, they designed them as road maps, pointing the way to freedom's door.

The paintings of Sedrick Huckaby raise quilts from craft to art in his incredible renderings of quilts alone and in groupings, with props and without, hanging and crumbled, revealing backs and fronts. They are masterfully tactile and strangely provocative.

Huckaby's piece "The Day We Talked a New Talk" is an exceptional example of his understanding of quilts as far more than pretty craft. The quilts in this piece are among graffiti, wood, and cardboard boxes. Perhaps they are what makes an alley a home, fills a dark space with the light of art, or provides warmth. Or, maybe they do all three.

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In Alice Walker's famous short story, "Everyday Use" Walker challenges readers to consider the things we choose to surround ourselves with and how we use and respect (or disrespect) them. That is precisely what Huckaby's work does as well, creating conversations where before there was only ignorance and silence.

See the exhibition, Sedrick Huckaby: When Old People Talk to Young People, through December 3 at Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden. Huckaby will speak on his work Monday, November 14, at 7 p.m. also at the gallery.

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