Sedrick Huckaby paints portraits of people, often his own family members. And for more than a decade now, many of the portraits he’s painted happen to be of quilts. Old-fashioned, family-sewn quilts, the kind made from bright scraps and strips of color, whatever fabric leftovers were at hand.
Even before Huckaby went to Yale University in 1999, he’d been fascinated by his family’s quilts. They appeared as details or backgrounds in his paintings. But at Yale, Huckaby took a course on African aesthetics and how African traditions spread around the world — including the idea of making-do, of re-purposing what was at hand, transforming bits and pieces into something new. That made him think these distinctive quilts could be a stand-in for a person; they embody his or her character, an abstract portrait in patterned fabrics yet an abstraction that was individual, personal, vivid with history.
Huckaby’s quilt paintings have become a trademark. One of his large, quilt paintings hung in the lobby of the Amon Carter Museum. Another quilt study is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Other paintings of his have been bought by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum in New York.