In Person Festival returns January 25-29, 2023 

Barbara McCraw | Online Auction of “The Entertainers” & New Art Exhibit

Art has always been Barbara McCraw’s passion and dream. The Chicago native is a medical technologist turned Master Quilter who has created quilts celebrating figures like Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Obamas.

Now, the artist (pictured right) is collaborating with the Denton Black Film Festival in celebration of its five-year anniversary.

Her latest piece, “The Entertainers”, will raffled off as part of the festival. 

The piece honors early Black artists and benefits the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation, Inc. for 2019 scholarships.

  • When: The raffle is open from Dec. 6, 2018 – Jan. 19, 2019. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at DBFF during the closing performance featuring Kirk Whalum, a Grammy Award-winning jazz artist. Raffle ticket holders do not have to be present to win.
  • Cost: Raffle tickets are available online for $50. Only 150 tickets will be sold.
  • More information: Visit www.dentonaasfgiving.org. DBFF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) showcasing great cinema, art, live music and more. The festival is presented by the Denton African American Scholarship Foundation, which is a nonprofit 501c(3) dedicated to establishing a perpetual monetary foundation for the furtherance of post-secondary education for eligible students.

Additionally, several of her quilts will be on display in a new exhibited titled “Life Stories: The Quilts of Barbara McCraw” in conjunction with DBFF and the Greater Denton Arts Council.

The exhibition will be held through Feb. 15, 2019 at the Gough Gallery in the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center, located at 400 E Hickory St, Denton, TX 76201. The exhibit is free. For hours and detail, visit https://dentonarts.com/patterson-appleton-arts-center.


Growing up on the south side of Chicago, McCraw attended Illinois State University and graduated with a degree in English in 1973. In 1986, she earned a degree in Medical Technology. By 1989, she began working as a fiber artist after taking introductory classes and hasn’t looked back since. Her love of quilting led her to eight years studying and teaching the history of Baltimore Album quilts and six years lecturing on the subject. She also spent four weeks in Africa as the lead teacher in an Art of Quilting program for young women. She has since developed a free, six-week summer program teaching underserved girls and boys the basics of sewing and quilting.

McCraw’s pieces can be found in the Smithsonian, the Denton County African-American museum, the Denton County Courthouse museum, the University of Michigan and North Carolina Central University. Her artwork is most influenced by her imagination, the encouragement she receives from friends and the memory of her mom. But “The Entertainers” is inspired by a piece called “Mah-Jongg” and the works of early Black actors, singers, dancers and orators who struggled for avenues to express their art.

– Written by Jasmine Johnson




Art has been my passion and my dream all my life. I have tried all kinds of art, but when I found quilting, it became what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Black film has also been a part of my life since childhood. We were drawn to the television like a magnet when a black person was on the screen. We were so proud of their talent. They acted, sang, and danced, and we were in awe.

How wonderful they were, how amazingly hard they must have worked, and what challenges they must have faced for the often meager opportunities they were given. I put myself in their places; the “Coloreds Only” restaurants and bathrooms, the bad names they were called. I understand that it was the price they had to pay to realize their dreams. Those brave artists paved the way for those who came after, a chance to dream.

Many hours were spent watching old films and doing research before starting on this quilt. I thought of those early Black actors, singers, dancers, orators, who yearned for a venue in which to express their art. They needed to entertain, just as I needed to sew. In searching for inspiration, I began to look through some of my art books. Years ago, my husband, Ernie, bought me a book by the artist, Erte. He urged me to take some time looking through it. He is my muse, you see, and involved in each quilt I create. He plays an integral part in all stages of my designs, and gives me suggestions, ideas and encouragement.

I stopped at a page showing a piece called “Mah-Jongg”. I knew this inspiration was just what I had been looking for. I decided to make a similar stage, but using black suede silhouettes of Black actors, singers and dancers demonstrating their craft. The stage shows the shiny, polished boards of a theater floor, and the beams of stage lights radiate from above.  I had chosen the title of this piece long before I finished it. And now, as the last stitch has been sewn, I present to you, “The Entertainers”.

– Barbara McCraw

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