Yvonne Wells

July 22 through October 16, 2022

On view in Lowder Gallery


Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939) is an African-American folk artist and quilter from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is best known for her self-taught style and her story quilts depicting scenes from the Bible and the Civil Rights Movement. Wells describes herself as, “storyteller first, and a folk quilter second.” She defines her art by “the three H’s—what the head sees, what the heart feels, and what the hand can create.” She is recognized among the latter generation of African-American self-taught artists from the Southeastern U.S. who came to prominence in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and she continues to work daily on the creation of the appliqued narrative quilts for which she is known.

This exhibition features a selection of quilts from the MMFA permanent collection, which holds 18 significant works by this important Alabama artist. Among them will be the latest acquisition, Amistad, which tells the story of a rebellion aboard a ship transporting African captives in July of 1839, along with other works that are central to the story of the Civil Rights struggle in the 20th century.


Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.


Support for this exhibition was provided by lead sponsor Lamar. Additional support was provided by sponsors Mr. Will Hill Tankersley and Dr. Kristin Tankersley and co-sponsors AmeriFirst Bank; Balch & Bingham, LLP; Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Campbell II; Captrust; Ms. Camille Elebash-Hill and Mr. W. Inge Hill, Jr.; Mr. and Mrs. L. Daniel Morris, Jr.; Dr. and Mrs. Alfred J. Newman, Jr.; River Bank & Trust; Valley Bank; and Warren Averett, LLC.

Above: Yvonne Wells (American, born 1939), Amistad (detail), 1998, cotton, cotton/polyester blend, cotton corduroy, polyester, and plastic buttons, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase, 2021.6, © Yvonne Wells, Photograph © Jerry Siegel

Above: Artist Yvonne Wells, about 2013.

Wells defines her art by “the three H’s—what the head sees, what the heart feels, and what the hand can create.” 

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