Artist Creates Vibrant Portraits Using African Fabrics

Artist Bisa Butler creates vibrant portraits using colorful fabrics, turning her creations into quilt-like magic. Drawing inspiration from African textures and textiles, she layers her fabrics to form her African subjects.

“I have always been drawn to portraits,” Butler explains in her gallery’s website. “I was the little girl who would sit next to my grandmother and ask her to go through her old family photo albums. I was the one who wanted to hear the story behind every picture. This inquisitiveness has stayed with me to this day. I often start my pieces with a black and white photo and allow myself to tell the story.”

Butler studied fine art at Howard University. Born in Orange, New Jersey, she now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Through her work, she hopes to raise questions about identity and tradition.

“My portraits tell stories that may have been forgotten over time,” she adds. “When you see vintage lace and aged satin it tells you the story of delicacy and refinement of times gone by. When you see African printed cotton and mud cloth it tells the story of my ancestral homeland and the cradle of civilization.”

Check out her unique creations below.