Pearlie M. Johnson

Assistant Professor


Dr. Pearlie Johnson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies, with a secondary appointment in Fine Arts. Her seminal work African American Quilts: An Examination of Feminism, Identity, and Empowerment in Fabric Arts in Kansas City explore a complex system of signs and symbols that reveal layers of social and cultural meanings. Professor Johnson was awarded a Research Initiation Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to help fund her research project on documenting African American women in the quilting arts in Kentucky. To date, she has interviewed over 25 quilters across the state, from the quilt capitol of Paducah to the Appalachia Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Professor Johnson has been interviewed about quilts in Kentucky by Joel and Rhonda Brashear, producers at Our Mountains Television, and featured in a segment called “Appalachian Culture and Lifestyle” on CWKYT out of Lexington and MYVLT out of Knoxville, Tennessee, and on Facebook.

Johnson’s academic background is interdisciplinary, combining methods and principles in art history, sociology, ethnography, race and gender studies, feminist and womanist theories, and applying them in the analysis and interpretation of African and African American visual arts. Her research also involves an African-centered perspective, which examines possible retentions and adaptations, as well as contemporary reinterpretations of African signs, symbols, and traditions in American art and art throughout the Diaspora.


African American Quilts in Kentucky
Quilt Art: Examining the Narrative in Kentucky Quilts
African American Contemporary Fabric Arts
Blacks in Western Art

Course Offerings

ARTH 341/PAS 381 Survey of African Art
ARTH 343/PAS 310 African American Art Part I
ARTH 344/PAS 311 African American Art Part II
ARTH 349/PAS 308 Contemporary Trends in African American Art
ARTH 549/PAS 509 Contemporary Trends in African American Art
ARTH 203 Introduction to Art
PAS 200 Introduction to Pan-African Studies
PAS 312/COM 326 Blacks in American Media


“African Art: From the Margaret and Frederick Merida Collection.” Schneider Hall Galleries, Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, on display July 25 – October 25, 2014.
“African American Quilts Today: A Celebration of Motherhood, Sisterhood, and the Matriarchs.” New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, Massachusetts, on display October 21-December 31, 2010.

National Lectures

Empowering People and Shaping Identities: Art Examines a Century (1914-2014) in African American Life and History.” Atlanta, Georgia, September 2015.
“African American Art: Civil Rights and Protest in America.” Memphis, Tennessee, September 2014.
“Reinterpretations of Black Emancipation, Freedom, and Equality.” Jacksonville, Florida, October 2013.
“African American Women in the Quilting Arts: An Examination of Resistance, Determination, and Celebration.” Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 2012.
“African American Quilts: Teaching the Past Through Quilting.” Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2011.

State-wide Lectures

Quilt Extravaganza, Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea, Kentucky, July 2016.
Friends of Historic Locust Grove, Audubon Auditorium, Louisville, Kentucky, June 2016.
Celebrating Black Kentuckians, The Clifton Center, Louisville, Kentucky, March 2016.
Stitch Together Your Community Quilt Show, Daviess County Public Library, Owensboro, Kentucky, October 2015.
Women’s History Conference, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Prestonsburg, Kentucky, March 2015.
McCracken County Library during the 29th Annual American Quilt Society Show, Paducah, Kentucky, April 2014.
Hotel Metropolitan Culture Center during the 28th Annual American Quilt Society Show, Paducah, Kentucky, April 2012.