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African-American quilts showcased

The bold designs of African-American quilters, especially those from the Gee's Bend area of southwest Alabama, show how African symbols and traditions have been passed through the generations. "Signs & Symbols: African American Quilts," a new exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art, features acclaimed pieces from that area and from other regional quilters, most done in the 20th century.

Susie Ponds created Green Snake Quilt, above, in 1979, when she was 82. She died in 1998 at age 101. Other quilters featured in the show include 107-year-old Martha Jane Pettway of Gee's Bend and 88-year-old Sarah Mary Taylor of Yazoo City, Miss.

The quilts will be on display through April 3.

African-American quilts also are featured in two St. Petersburg exhibits. On Dec. 26, the Studio 620 opened "Grand Ma's Hands: One Hundred Years of African American Quilting," with 37 quilts made by African-Americans from 1880 to 1970, including two bark cloths from the kingdom of Kuba, Africa. The exhibit continues through Feb. 13.

The Arts Center in St. Petersburg will open a related exhibit by the same name Jan. 13.

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