ST. PETERSBURG — A first-of-its-kind-exhibition that examines Black history in the American West is set to open Saturday, Sept. 3, at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, 150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. The exhibition will continue through Sunday, Jan. 8.

“Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West” explores the path of Black history in the West with a timeline of original pictorial quilts. These colorful, richly detailed works of art chronicle the arrival of Africans in the American West in 1528 all the way through the Civil Rights Movement, bringing to life forgotten stories and lesser-known chapters in our shared history.

Dispelling the myth that Black people in the old West were mostly cowboys, “Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West” reveals the breadth of their occupations and achievements in society, religion, education, and the arts.

Quilts were chosen as the visual medium for this exhibition because they function to highlight the intersections of African Americans in the Western Frontier while informing others about the art form and its important role in African American history.

This exhibition is organized by The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art and Carolyn Mazloomi, curator, historian and artist. The 50 quilts have been created by the Women of Color Quilters Network especially for this exhibition.

“Quilts and quilt making are important to America and Black culture in particular, because the art form was historically one of the few mediums accessible to marginalized groups to tell their own story, to provide warmth for their families, and to empower them with a voice through cloth,” said Mazloomi.

For African American women, quilts have always been at the core of artistic expression, taking form in the social, economic, and spiritual lives of the women who make them. Founded by Mazloomi in 1985, Women of Color Quilters Network is a nonprofit national organization whose mission is to educate, preserve, exhibit, promote and document quilts made by African Americans.

“The James Museum is proud to put forth an exhibition that explores the Black experience in the American West,” said Laura Hine, executive director of The James Museum. “These quilts and the stories they tell embody one of our core values; to amplify all voices of the American West, including those not often found at the forefront. We are so grateful to Dr. Mazloomi and the Women of Color Quilters Network for partnering with us to bring this vision to life.”

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call 727-892-4200 or visit

The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art provides experiences that inspire human connection and transformation through art depicting the peoples, landscapes, and history of the American West, and wildlife of the world. More than 400 premiere works of art including sculpture, paintings and jewelry are on display in the museum’s 26,000 square feet of gallery space.

The museum engages the community through programs and educational opportunities, for all ages, that bring our history to life and amplify voices that are not often at the forefront of mainstream Western art. When The James Museum opened in April 2018 it became one of the newest additions to St. Petersburg’s thriving arts community.