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Dream of Rainbows: Portraits of Six Alabama Women celebrates the contributions of women who lived in Alabama. The artwork is composed of 25 ceramic pillows that reference quilt squares, each showing six repeated portraits that depict an aspect of each woman’s life. Red and orange forms illustrating the periodic table depict the career of Dr. Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson (1864-1901), an African American physician who became the first woman certified to practice in Alabama, and who founded a dispensary to serve the pharmaceutical needs of her community. Orange and yellow ceramic housetop quilt squares represent the artwork of Martha Jane Pettway (1898-2003), a Gee’s Bend quilter who participated in the New Deal during the Great Depression and helped support and inspire generations. Yellow and green ceramic squares show the musical notes of “Trouble So Hard,” performed by Vera Hall Ward (1902-1964), a community spiritual singer in rural Sumter County who learned from her mother Agnes, a former slave, and her father Efron “Zully” Hall. Green and blue squares show an interpretation of a variable star chart that Dorrit Hoffleit (1907-2007), born in Florence, AL, researched throughout her career at Yale University. An architectonic depiction of a blocked doorway in blue and purple represents Autherine Lucy (b. 1929), the first African American accepted to the University of Alabama in 1952, who was prevented from attending but later earned a master’s degree in 1991 from the University of Alabama. Purple and red ceramic squares incise the poetic tanka form (a pattern of alternating 5 and 7 syllable lines ending with a 7 syllable line) utilized by Sonia Sanchez from Birmingham, AL (b. 1934), an acclaimed poet associated with the Black Arts Movement.

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