Astah’s to celebrate 20 years in Maplewood

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Astah’s Fine Art Gallery, located at 1897 Springfield Ave. in Maplewood, will celebrate its 20th anniversary the weekend of Oct. 20 and 21 with an exhibit featuring renowned artist and master African American quilt maker Phyllis Stephens. The celebration will run from 2 to 6 p.m. on both days, with an afternoon discussion and showcase by Stephens at 4 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Stephens is an award-winning fifth generation quilt maker, considered by critics to be a master of African American story quilts. She has quilted professionally for more than 30 years, with her quilts having been displayed in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries in the world, including The Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Ky.; the Fine Art Museum of Ghana — the fabric capital of the world; and the Smithsonian Museum. She has also traveled across the globe to explore the African diaspora in India, where she was given the opportunity to spend time with the beautiful African quilt makers, or Siddis, who reside on India’s west coast. Her design process and techniques are cutting edge, and her work has been described as innovative and fresh.

“My love affair with the art of quilt making is a seed planted inside me by every generation I have knowledge of,” Stephens said. “Once, when I gave my grandmother a quilt, she proudly proclaimed that I quilted with the same form and sense of style as her grandmother. The stories I tell in my quilts live deep inside of me. Quilting is sometimes thought of as a hard, long, drawn-out process. I am an heir to the culture and value of the African tradition of quilt making. I enjoy every part, every process and the special privilege of creating a quilt.”

For more information about this exhibit or the gallery in general, call 973-761-5012.