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California African American Museum
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Sanford Biggers at the California African American Museum


“Codeswitch,” Sanford Biggers’ solo exhibition at the California African American Museum includes nearly 50 quit-based artworks. Though the artist works across various sculptural mediums, as well as film and music, the focused selection at CAAM highlights the use of found pre-1900s quilts in his artworks.

Biggers began working with quilts after researching their theoretical use in conveying information along the Underground Railroad, and employs antique quilts as bases for his mark making: cutting, painting, glittering, and manipulating their patterned surfaces. Works feature lavish bonsai trees, pooling colors, geometric shapes, applied fabrics, and even the occasional QR code. Each quilt becomes a visual maze of decoding process and time: Biggers’ own marks blend with the quilt-maker’s original stitches, confusing each object’s lineage of making and collapsing past histories with present day visuals.

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Photo: Sanford Biggers, Harlem Blue , 2013. Antique quilt, assorted textile, acrylic, spray paint, 88 x 88 in. © Sanford Biggers.