Flushing artist exhibition of quilts depicting abolitionist leaders to be featured at Bowne House in celebration of Black History Month

Photo courtesy of Thadine Wormly-Herndon

In celebration of Black History Month, Flushing’s historic Bowne House Historical Society is hosting a monthlong exhibition of quilts and special programs commemorating the history of abolition. 

The exhibition of quilts are created by well known fiber artist and professional quilter, Thadine Wormly-Herndon. The 40-year Flushing resident is the co-founder of the Pomonok Quilt Guild and is a teacher and member of the Brooklyn Quilt Guild, Quilt-N-Queens, and the Quilters of Color Network, New York City. 

Her work has been exhibited in galleries, museums and public venues throughout New York City. It has also been featured in the offices of former Queens Borough Presidents Helen Marshall and Melinda Katz. The quilt, ‘The Price of Cotton,” was included in the celebrated WestBeth Gallery Exhibition, The Fiber Matrix. 

“As a painter used canvas, paint and brush, I use fabric, thread and needle to create art that captures the eyes,” Wormly-Herndon said in a statement to QNS. “From the eyes to the mind a quilt that mirrors social, economic, political, racial, historical, cultural and educational from yesterday and today. When I begin a quilt it has no definite start to finish time. I use the gift God gave me for weaving cloth and thread into a quilt. A quilt that can comfort and keep others warm, a quilt as vehicle to tell a story, and a quilt that I can immerse my energy in and receive relaxation and peace, therapy.”

Wormly-Herndon’s exhibition will be on view at Bowne House from Feb. 8 through 29 during Black History Month tours. The quilts tell the story of abolitionist leaders and the Underground Railroad’s role in bringing slaves to freedom. 

A quilt depicting the life of American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) will be on display, and another that tells the story of freed slave, abolitionist and member of the United States House of Representatives, Robert Smalls (1839-1915). 

Additionally, a large quilt sampler titled, “Underground Railroad” features symbols well known to slaves fleeing to freedom during the Civil War through a system of “safe houses,” such as Bowne House. Featured on the sampler are the log cabin (the colors of lights in a house’s windows indicated if it were a safe haven in the day or in the night); the bowtie (which warned slaves to travel in disguise); and the sailboat (the symbol indicating boats were available for escape by water).

Bowne House will offer tours Feb. 8, 12, 15 and 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. focusing on the history of abolition in Queens and the house’s role as a “safe house” along the Underground Railroad. 

On Sunday, Feb. 16, Thadine Wormly-Herndon will lead a quilting workshop at the Flushing Quaker Meeting House from 2 to 4 p.m.  The workshop is included in the cost of admission to Bowne House. 

Join Bowne House professional archivist Charlotte Jackson on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. as she speaks about the Bowne and Parsons families’ role moving slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad during abolition. The talk is included in the $10 admission to Bowne House. 

Admission to Feb. 8, 12, 15 and 16 programs is $10, $8 for students and senior citizens. Members of the Bowne House Historical Society are admitted free of charge. To book school groups contact: bownehouseeducation@gmail.com 

For further information about the Black History Month exhibition and about Bowne House contact, office@bownehouse.org.