Fifteen art quilts portray the rich culture and textile traditions of Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Benin. Each quilt was created from illustrations of photographs taken in the region by the artist. Influenced by the twelve years she lived in West Africa working with humanitarian organizations, her work reflects her dedication to social and environmental issues in the region. She was inspired by the communities and their strong family spirits, as well as the beautiful textiles and colors of the area.
Through this exhibition I express my feelings and impressions of West African people in their everyday lives. Each piece tells a story showing the strength of family and community. My choice of textiles as a medium suggests an intimacy and softness, while expressing the sparkle and joy of the people. My drawings are based on photographs I took while living in Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Benin. These colored pencil illustrations were printed on fabric using the latest digital technology, and then quilted with hundreds of colored threads.
The juxtaposition of the decorative patterned background combined with the photo-realistic drawing of the people creates a feeling of warmth and jubilation. The quilts sing "Africa" because fabrics play such an important role in the people's lives.
My goal for this exhibition is to encourage intercultural understanding and educate viewers about this region of Africa. --Hollis Chatelain