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kottke.org posts about Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler’s Colorful Quilted Portraits of Black Americans

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 06, 2020

Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler

Using colorful African textiles, Bisa Butler makes large quilted portraits of Black Americans. From a statement on her gallery’s website:

In my work, I am telling the story — this African American side — of the American life. History is the story of men and women, but the narrative is controlled by those who hold the pen.

My community has been marginalized for hundreds of years. While we have been right beside our white counterparts experiencing and creating history, our contributions and perspectives have been ignored, unrecorded, and lost. It is only a few years ago that it was acknowledged that the White House was built by slaves. Right there in the seat of power of our country African Americans were creating and contributing while their names were lost to history.

In this short video, you can see how Butler creates her portraits. Look at the amazing sewing machine she uses — it’s got a steering wheel!

You can see more of her work on Instagram and in person at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York through Oct 4, 2020 and at the Art Institute of Chicago starting in November.

Update: I swapped out the previous video embedded above for a longer one that includes sound and an interview w/ Butler. (via @10engines)