Artist Bisa Butler creates colorful quilts that have a narrative twist. Identifying herself as “essentially a portrait artist who uses fibers and quilting as a medium,” she crafts pictures of people using the same conceptual approaches that a painter would a canvas. The results are striking. While we might picture a quilt as displaying geometric designs, there’s a beautiful lyricism to how Butler pieces the fabric to illuminate and honor black children and adults whose stories may have been forgotten or overlooked.
Butler is formally trained as a painter but didn’t feel inspired to continue her practice after receiving her undergraduate degree. While in graduate school for art education, she created a small quilt with a landscape design. “I realized at that moment that I could use all fiber as a medium,” she tells My Modern Met. “My grandmother and mother sewed every day making clothing and home decor, and they taught me the power of being able to make something for yourself.” And from a logistical standpoint, quilting was appealing. “I could manipulate fiber and fabric while sitting next to my small children.”