Describe your art:
Pictorial. Portraits, that tell stories of the African Diaspora. My people, my life, and how the world touches me. The joy in our lives, and the injustices, what would I see through the magnifying glass of my sewing needle.
What makes your work stand out:
It is teachable. I had the opportunity to introduce high school students to Oseola McCarty. They had never heard of the washerwoman philanthropist until they saw my quilt.
Career highlight so far:
I made one of the Obama quilts for the show Quilts for Obama: Celebrating the Inauguration of Our 44th President. I took the train to DC for the opening of the exhibit.
My mother and I published a book together.
My mother Winifred Sanders who taught me to thread a needle and sew an art quilt is my sweet creative inspiration. Torreah “Cookie” Washington influenced me by inviting me to her studio. She helped me in developing my skills. She would say, ”you gotta rip that out”.
The invention of the sewing machine. I have a Featherweight and a Singer.
Next Big Thing:
A joint exhibit in October at North Charleston City Gallery October called Words as in “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” which first appeared in The Christian Recorder, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
I am working on a piece with words from the letters written to Angela Davis while she was in prison. Also planning a body of work about environmental injustices.
Were you an artsy child:
I was a book nerd not really into making art until I was about 40. My parents were cultural parents who had an impact on me because they took us to see live plays at Cheery St Theater: To Be Young Gifted and Black. And exhibitions at the MET: Harlem on My Mind.
Because you are artsy people think:
The same big misconception about all fiber artists and quilters but we sew non-traditionally so our quilts are not for the bed.
Art life spill over into everyday:
There is no separation. I breathe it…all art.
Most unusual thing you have made:
A palmetto rose from the cartons of cigarettes for someone to use in an exhibit about the impact of tobacco on African American people. I am always thinking about how I can make art out of something unconventional.
Good day in the studio:
When everything lays flat. The images start talking to each other and the cloth speaks to me.
Clear Seeing Place:
When I am walking is when the artistic juice is flowing.
Art has the power to change lives and serves as a catalyst to heal and bring joy and wisdom.
How are you beautiful:
I see beauty in everyone.
Susan Irish is the founder and owner of Fabulon – Center for Art and Education. Each month she inrterviews a different local artist.