Bisa Butler was born in Orange, NJ, the daughter of a college president and a French teacher. She was raised in South Orange and the youngest of four siblings. Butler’s artistic talent was first recognized at the age of four, when she won a blue ribbon in an art competition.
Formally trained, Butler graduated Cum Laude from Howard University with a Bachelor’s in Fine Art degree. It was during her education at Howard that Butler was able to refine her natural talents under the tutelage of lecturers such as Lois Mailou Jones, Elizabeth Catlett, Jeff Donaldson and Ernie Barnes. She began to experiment with fabric as a medium and became interested in collage techniques.
Butler then went on to earn a Masters in Art from Montclair State University in 2005.
While in the process of obtaining her Masters degree Butler took a Fiber Arts class where she had an artistic epiphany and she finally realized how to express her art. “As a child, I was always watching my mother and grandmother sew, and they taught me. After that class, I made a portrait quilt for my grandmother on her deathbed, and I have been making art quilts ever since.”
Bisa Butler was a high school art teacher for 10 years in the Newark Public Schools and 3 years at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Butler’s work is currently the focus of a solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, the second stop of a traveling exhibit which began at the Katonah Museum of Art. The Toledo Museum of Art is also currently exhibiting Butler’s work in a group show. She is represented by the Claire Oliver Gallery of New York. Butlers work has been acquired by many private and public collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Nelson-Adkins Museum , The Kemper Museum of Art, The Orlando Museum of Art, The Newark Museum, The Toledo Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi is a historian, curator, author, lecturer, artist, mentor, founder, and facilitator — and has left her mark on many lives. Trained as an aerospace engineer, Carolyn Mazloomi turned her sights and tireless efforts in the 1980s to bring the many unrecognized contributions of African-American quilt artists to the attention of the American people as well as the international art communities.
From founding the African-American Quilt Guild of Los Angeles in 1981 to in 1985 founding the Women of Color Quilters Network (WCQN), Mazloomi has been at the forefront of educating the public about the diversity of interpretation, styles and techniques among African American quilters as well as educating a younger generation of African Americans about their own history through the quilts the WCQN members create.
A major force as an artist in her own right, Carolyn Mazloomi’s quilts have been exhibited extensively in venues such as the Mint Museum, American Folk Art Museum in New York City, National Civil Rights Museum, Museum of Art and Design, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC Her pictorial narrative quilts make plain her personal themes: family life, women’s rights, political freedom, and musical legacy. Her own quilts have appeared in over 70 exhibits, while she has curated 17 extensive exhibits of quilts made by members of the Women of Color Quilters Network, many of them traveling exhibits. Among the many exhibitions she has curated is “Still We Rise: Race, Culture and Visual Conversations,” which visually surveys 400 years of African American history. It is the largest traveling exhibit of African-American quilts ever mounted.
Laura Hopper (she/her) is a quilter, curator, and writer.
She is the Communications Manager and Creative Contributor for Suzy Quilts, a quilt pattern business and blog. She also works as a freelance quilt and textile writer. Her writing has appeared in Tatter, Curated Quilts, Taproot, Craft Industry Alliance, Benzie Design, Quiltfolk, Modern Patchwork, QuiltCon Magazine, and in over 50 museum exhibits. She is also the Exhibits Director for the Social Justice Sewing Academy. Laura is the lead editor and author of the book “Modern Quilts in the Second City: Ten Years of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild.”
Janneken Smucker, Professor of History at West Chester University, specializes in digital and public history and material culture. She also serves as the digital editor of the Oral History Review. In the classroom, she integrates technology and the humanities, working with students to create digital projects, including the award-winning Goin’ North: Stories from the First Great Migration to Philadelphia and Philadelphia Immigration.
Janneken consults on digital projects for non-profits and museums and leads workshops on digital tools and strategies. Author of Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Icon (Johns Hopkins, 2013), Janneken lectures and writes about quilts for popular and academic audiences. She was the 2015 co-recipient of WCU’s E. Riley Holman Memorial Faculty Award for innovative teaching. She currently serves as WCU’s Faculty Associate for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.
Zak Foster has been quilting and working with textiles prolifically since 2012 incorporating found fabrics and natural dyes into his work. He is drawn to preserving the stories of quilts and specializes in memory quilts. Originally from the Piedmont of North Carolina, he now resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his partner. More of his work can be seen at zakfoster.com.
Alexis’s quilts explore the intersection of traditional craft and modern expression, incorporating motifs and techniques from traditional quilts into a more contemporary context. Past and ongoing projects include: “American Quilts,” a meditation on the epidemic of gun violence in America; Irish Chain Variations, a yearlong study of the traditional form; “Black and White,” variations on traditional quilt patterns using a stripped-down palette and alternative configurations
L’Merchie Frazier is a socially engaged public fiber artist, activist, historian, poet and holographer and WCQN Quilter. Her “Art Out Loud” serves communities nationally and internationally with visual and performance art residencies in Boston, Brazil, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Africa, France, Cuba and Boston. As a public lecturer and community workshop presenter, her spatial and social justice work activates youth and adults in a co-design model that reflects the participants as creative actors and their occupancy in democratizing the socio-economic political landscape.
L’Merchie generates work that investigates the spaces that we occupy. Principally considered a fiber artist, experimentally she uses unconventional methods to fuse multi-media 2D/3D fiber art, innovative holograms and poetry to evoke memory in order to examine how we visit and re-visit sites/spaces. The work provocatively traverses notions of identity, language, stories and freedom, with individuals and community.
As Director of Creative Engagement for the Transformative Art Project/Violence Transformed, part of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University, art methods, workshops and presentations expand her practice to work with mindful creative survivors of substance and domestic abuse, homeless populations, youth, incest survivors, first responder staff to COVID-19 and essential emergency staff, as well as with police brutality survivors. Particularly, through work with the Peace Institute’s “Mothers of Victims of Homicide,” HIV/AIDS Residents at the Shattuck Hospital, and children at Franciscan’s Hospital, as well as other agencies that address crisis, violence, and trauma, to co-create art making tools that serve as a catalyst for deep expression, healing and joy.
Informed by global residencies, L’Merchie works collaboratively to produce art in which people see themselves. The art is a respectful mirror of the community in which it is created, one that will honor historic sites and those who live in diverse neighborhoods, as the power of art serves to bridge languages and geographic barriers. Art proves a viable means of serving the world to promote safe, equitable and just conditions for humanity. As the global community continues to shift, Black and Brown communities continue to resist centuries of social injustices revealed in the existence of systemic racism inequities, disproportionately flooding vulnerable communities. In support of journeys towards liberation and justice, with a passion for hidden history, the sacred world, ethnographic research, healing and the creative re-imagining of space, tied to spatial justice and its possibilities, this is one life work, “Save Me From My Amnesia.”
Susan Hudson, a Navajo/Diné artist from Sheep Springs, NM was taught to sew by her mother who was forced to sew at an “assimilation” boarding school. Hudson’s pictorial quilts honor her ancestors and the proud history of the Navajo people using a crossover style inspired by Ledger art. Recounting history through her ledger quilts has made Hudson an activist storyteller, chronicling the hardships endured by her ancestors.
Her mother Dorothy Woods taught her to sew and quilt when she was nine years old. “After the buffalo disappeared, our women were forced to learn sewing in boarding schools. But look at what we are doing with it now. We are taking it a step further and using it to tell our own stories so we will never forget,” remarks Hudson.
Her quilts honor her ancestors, their sacrifices and strengths, and remember their hardships. These tributes have won awards at the Navajo Nation Fair, Window Rock, AZ, the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonies, NM, the Museum of Man in San Diego, CA, and at the Indian Arts and Crafts Association, NM, among others.
A quilter of long experience in many genres, Allie has written three books for C & T Publishing. Her quilts have won several major awards, she appeared on the Quilt Show, has taught for Bluprint, served on the board of the Quilt Alliance, and traveled as a quilt teacher for ten years, making such precious friends along the way!
A continuing theme in all her work is a rich dialog between her quilts and her avid passion for flower gardening. She lives with her husband in the country outside Portland, Oregon, where they raised two magnificent sons.