Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Riché Richardson, Quilter

Riché Richardson leads a busy academic career. Educated at Spelman College and Duke University, Richardson focused her early work on African American literature, American literature, and southern studies and went on to teach for ten years at UC Davis. She is now an associate professor at the Africana Studies & Research Center at Cornell University.

Her ties to UGA Press began when she became coeditor of The New Southern Studies, a book series that re-examines the central ideas of the last twenty years of critical theory in southern studies: objecthood, identity, space, nation, region, abjection, the body, and empire. In 2007 the Press published her book BLACK MASCULINITY AND THE U.S. SOUTH, which the eminent scholar Houston A. Baker called "a brilliantly sophisticated recasting of black southerners (especially black males), white hegemony, race, gender, and sexuality in the United States."

But Richardson, who is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, isn't content to merely study southern culture as an academic. As an accomplished quilter, she actively participates in one of the South's most celebrated traditions. And like her academic work, her quilting has received accolades. This past summer Richardson's quilts were included in an exhibition at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum. A short film about her work, A Portrait of the Artist, has been produced by the filmmakers Geraldine Chouard and Anne Crémieux. And, she is profiled in the book Crafted Lives by Patricia Turner.

Now Richardson has been asked to be a cultural envoy, as an artist and quilter, for the U.S. Embassy in Paris. During her trip to Paris she will present a talk at the Ambassador's Residence on January 14 and will give numerous lectures to American studies scholars. Richardson is using the trip as an opportunity to unveil her current work-in-progress, a quilt that will mark the inauguration of Barack Obama.