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Out & About: 'Blood Cotton' exhibit opens in Saint Vincent College McCarl Gallery

Shirley McMarlin
| Thursday, July 5, 2018, 2:18 p.m.

Curator Lauren Churilla said she didn't know how timely the new McCarl Coverlet Gallery exhibit would be when she started planning it a year ago.

“Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry” opened with a July 2 reception in the gallery on the Saint Vincent College campus and will run through Jan. 11.

Churilla said that, while gallery visitors often comment on the beauty of the its collection of 19th-century woven coverlets, the cotton and textile industry that produced them also had a dark side — its dependence on the enslavement of Africans.

In the exhibit, Churilla said, her aim was to juxtapose the visually stunning textiles with artifacts, such as shackles and bills of sale for slaves, that illustrate the uglier realities of the industry.

The exhibit also punctuates the continuing prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the national consciousness.

Raphael Pantalone, an elementary school art teacher in the Greensburg Salem School District, created paintings on the gallery walls depicting slaves harvesting cotton. He and his wife, Kathleen Pantalone, attended the reception.

Also on hand was Liza Seiner of Level Green, who demonstrated the spinning of raw cotton into yarn.

Seen in the gallery: Joanna Moyar, Joan McGarry, Mona Wiley, Ramie Ortiz, Frank and Susan Rex, Lauren Buches and Jessica Kadie-Barclay with her son, John Barclay.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

Curator Lauren Churilla (left) wth Lauren Buches, new executive director of the Latrobe Art Center, at a July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College in Unity.
Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
Curator Lauren Churilla (left) wth Lauren Buches, new executive director of the Latrobe Art Center, at a July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College in Unity.
Artist Raphael Pantalone poses with his wife Kathleen Pantalone in front of a mural he created for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry,' running through Jan. 11 in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College.
Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
Artist Raphael Pantalone poses with his wife Kathleen Pantalone in front of a mural he created for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry,' running through Jan. 11 in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College.
Joan McGarry (left) and Jessica Kadie-Barclay at the July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College.
Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
Joan McGarry (left) and Jessica Kadie-Barclay at the July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College.
Frank and Susan Rex attended the July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College in Unity.
Kim Stepinsky | For the Tribune-Review
Frank and Susan Rex attended the July 2 opening reception for 'Blood Cotton: Legacies of Slavery and Exploitation in the Decorative Textile Industry' in the McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College in Unity.
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