Contemporary Voices: Jean-Marcel St. Jacques

A figure clothed from head to toe, with a straw hat, lace cloth covering the face, and patchwork pants and robe.
Jean-Marcel St. Jacques.


Jean-Marcel St. Jacques grew up admiring his great-grandmother’s strip quilts and his great grandfather's resourcefulness in repurposing old objects into new – a practice informed by the wonder of alchemy and hoodoo tradition. Undoubtedly influenced by both family members and the stories of generations before them, St. Jacques transforms what is typically discarded or discounted into art. His “wooden quilts” give new life to the remnants of Hurricane Katrina and, like a quilt, make us question what meaning can be imbued into bits and scraps otherwise forgotten or overlooked.

Join us in the gallery to reconsider what makes a quilt. St. Jacques will be led in conversation by Dr. Elka Stevens to discuss how seemingly disparate objects and non-textile materials are treated as quilt blocks to tell a new story. This conversation will take place in the gallery in front of his wooden quilt, Contrary to Hearsay, He Wasn’t The Devil.

About Jean-Marcel St. Jacques

Jean-Marcel St. Jacques is a self-taught folk artist and 12th-generation Louisiana Afro-Creole. He returned to Louisiana 18 years ago after his family fled to escape racial oppression. His “wooden quilt” pieces made from the architectural remnants of Hurricane Katrina are in the permanent collections of the American Folk Art Museum, the Alexandria Museum of Art and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.

About Elka Stevens

Elka Stevens, associate professor of visual culture and studio art, serves as Fashion Design program coordinator and textiles collection curator in Howard University’s Art Department. As an interdisciplinary scholar and artist, Dr. Stevens uses textiles and clothing as a lens of analysis, inspiration and media for her scholarship. Current fiber and digital creative works explore identity, sustainability and social justice.

How to Participate

This program is free and will take place in person at the museum. Space is limited, so please register online to reserve your spot.

About Contemporary Voices
Meet innovative artists and scholars whose practice draws on textile materials, techniques or knowledge. This series is supported through the museum's Cynthia and Alton Boyer Fund for Education.