In this video, we learn how history, music and photography were stitched together at a recent exhibition by African American fibre-artist, Bisa Butler.
The show, ‘Bisa Butler: Portraits’, was held at the Art Institute of Chicago and finished its run earlier in Septemer 2021.
The intensely-hued works may look like paintings or photographs, but they are, in fact, quilts, inspired by archival images and snaps from family albums.
Butler is known for these vibrant portraits, which vividly capture personal and historical narratives of Black life. She strategically uses textiles – a traditionally marginalised medium – to interrogate the historical marginalisation of her subjects, while using scale and subtle detail to convey her subjects’ complex individuality.
Together, Butler’s quilts present an expansive view of history, drawing on themes such as family, community, migration, the promise of youth, and artistic and intellectual legacies.
The show also paid tribute to one of Butler’s key influences – the influential African American AfriCOBRA art collective, which emerged in Chicago during the Sixties.
View the original video here.
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