In my studio practice, I construct paintings of cloth and paper that are informed by the ordinary complications of experience, beautiful and otherwise. Seam considers the poetry in accidental marks, the tenderness of flaw, the transformative potential of attention and labor.

For at least 20 years I admired West African cloth. I poured over photographs of lively and elegant Kente spread across glossy pages of big art books. I photocopied and hung in my workplace pictures of indigo Adire cloth from the Yoruba in Nigeria, and those incredible, deep, reflective turbans worn by the Tuaregue nomads. For years I kept a tattered postcard on my refrigerator of the cloth being dyed in Kano. The profoundly beautiful color, pattern and surface of these textiles kept my gaze, and their deep investment in the culture and values of the place filled my imagination.

In 2006 I lived and worked in Kumasi, Ghana. I studied the Adinkra cloth-making tradition in the village of Ntonso, sat with cloth vendors in open air markets, made friends with seamstresses, and moved about in a place where cloth is fully appreciated; a place where color and pattern are an integral part of life. Since that time I have continued to work and live for parts of each year in Kumasi.

The pulse of this place informed by the layering of powerful histories, the intensity of the sun, the vitality of the cloth, the accumulations and the erosion, the vigorous conversations, and all the complications, beautiful and otherwise, were in my mind’s eye as I went to the studio to create Seam. I am deeply grateful to my friends and teachers in Ghana who generously shared so much with me.


Card from Seam exhibition at Design Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Card from Seam exhibition at Design Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Madison