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Bisa Butler Summons Black History in Her Quilted Arts to Motivate the Fight for Black Lives

Artist Bisa Butler, uses quilt making as a form of activism in support of black lives. By depicting stories from African and African-American history in her richly colored works, she uses the medium to enhance the visibility of black culture and to convey themes of community and empowerment.  Drawing from her Ghanaian heritage, she utilizes vibrant materials, which speak to the country’s storied textile tradition while adding strength to her messaging. ‘My work is traditionally African American but my motifs, symbols, and color choices can be traced back to Africa. Quilting allows me to connect to my matrilineal tradition of sewing and collecting fine fabrics, while it also connects me to my patrilineal ancestral legacy in Ghana. I use primarily Dutch and African Wax printed cotton, Ghanaian kente, Nigerian aso oke, and South African shwe-shwe in my artwork.’