Bisa Butler: Pride and Presence

May 6, 2021 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm Live, Virtual on Zoom

An Artist Talk with Bisa Butler, Quilt Artist and Storyteller

A quilt is a potent object. Made by hand, even the most minimal quilt design is a material record of the life, inspirations, tastes, history, and beliefs of the maker and recipient. Scraps of cloth leftover from a handmade wedding dress might be paired with sturdy bits that remain from a mostly threadbare work uniform. Sewn together, these fragments of color, texture and pattern create an abstract textile work layered with life’s richness and complexity.

Bisa Butler’s glorious contemporary quilts utilize the medium to lift up the stories of African American individuals both known and unknown. The vibrant colors and patterns of African fabrics from her ancestral Ghana, batiks from Nigeria, and prints from South Africa create a visual cacophony, a blissed-out intensity, brilliant beauty and feeling of celebration. Her textile portraits immortalize cultural figures and anonymous individuals alike. Dignified and regal, their unapologetic maximalism finally makes looking away, ignoring, or forgetting them, an impossibility.

The Newport Art Museum is pleased to partner with the Sankofa Community Connection of Newport, whose mission includes working towards school curriculums that recognize and celebrate the cultural heritage of African Americans of colonial Newport, to welcome acclaimed artist Bisa Butler for a virtual artist talk followed by Q&A.

Registration is required to receive Zoom link, which will be sent directly to registrants on May 5.

Sankofa Community Connection

Sankofa Community Connection strives to disrupt inequalities and injustice within the Newport community and schools. Through their work they endeavor to bring awareness, encouragement and education to empower Newport community members that are not often heard. They seek to increase pride of place within the African American Community of Newport County through a community-led initiatives that focus on increasing social cohesion, dialogue around the impact of and solutions to institutional racism and oppression, and expanding the historical content taught in schools to reveal, honor and celebrate the cultural heritage of African Americans of early Newport. Since its inception, Sankofa Community Connection has inspired change for the better in the community and is often sought out for its expertise in culturally relevant programming, educational materials and consultant services by community members, schools and various organizations.


Image credits:

Hero image:
Bisa Butler, Dahomey Amazon, 2019, cotton, silk, wool and velvet, quilted and appliquéd. Private collection

Thumbnail image:
Bisa Butler standing in front of Dahomey Amazon. 

Both photos by John Butler