I have been making quilts for more than thirty years. Throughout this time I have made both traditional pieced and appliquéd quilts as well as nontraditional art quilts. Primarily, I make pictorial quilts that convey image of the African American experience. These quilts are also called story quilts because they do in fact, through imagery, tell a story. My work often features images of women in domestic life. The use of cotton fabrics in these domestic scenes provides the perfect intersection between the materials, simple cotton fabrics, and the subject matter, for example, a woman selling flowers at a low Carolina market. Some scholars argue, based on evidence of ceremonial African antiquities, that quilting may have originated from the piecework done by Africans before they were enslaved and brought to America. This piecework done by Africans combined with the fine needlework done by European settlers became the genesis for patchwork quilts. Quilting is truly an American art form and an important part of the African American tradition, a tradition that I am passionate about preserving through my work.
My current work is in response to President Trump’s position on immigration, his imposed travel ban to the United States from certain Muslim countries, and the polarized American landscape. The first quilt in this series is titled, “Yes We Can.” Those words were echoed throughout President Obamas’ hopeful Presidential campaigns and farewell address. I have translated “yes we can” into more than twenty-five different languages and appliqued those translations onto different patterned fabric to create the quilt. The diverse use of fabric and patchwork represent America’s diversity.
Another quilt in this series is the “Pussy Hat” quilt. This work replicates the sea of hand knit pink hats worn by protesters during the 2017 march on the Mall at the Washington Monument. Large machine pieced pink hats appear in the foreground of the quilt; the hats diminish in size moving towards the background. The quilt also contains words; adding fabric text to quilts is something I am doing more of in my work.
My work has been exhibited all over the country and published in important fiber arts books and magazines. When I exhibit my work, viewers often share stories of a favorite aunt or their grandmothers who made quilts. They recall the weight of the quilts on their bodies on cold winter nights, the worn out clothing skillfully repurposed into something beautiful, a quilt made for a new baby, a wedding, etc. Quilts resonate with diverse audiences. They are culturally significant and I am passionate about creating quilts and preserving the art and craft of quilting.