They Watch Him

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Nov 072015


They watch him, 2013

Dimensions: 25.5 ” W x 19″L

Artist dye-painted cotton whole cloth, photo printed on habotai silk, machine quilt drawing.

I love this photo of my father’s cousin, Sammy Lester from around 1924.  I use the image often in different ways.  You can see it in another piece here.  The original photo with his sister, Gwen is here.

I used to use the whole photo and frame it with the art quilt.  That worked for a while.  I like taking the person out of the background and placing them in a landscape of my imagination.


They watch him, detail

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Luna walks with her father’s spirits

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Nov 072015


Luna walks with her father’s spirits, 2013

Dimensions: 25″ W x 18″L

Artist dye-painted cotton whole cloth with photo printed on habotai silk.  Machine quilted.

This is my cousin’s elder daughter at around 18 months old.  She was then, and continues to be surrounded by her father’s spirits.




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Not Just Him

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Nov 062015


Not Just Him, 2014

Dimensions: 28″W x 36.5″ L

Materials:  artist dyed fabric, discharged fabric, machine quilting, machine quilt drawing and beading embellishment

I made this piece thinking about Nelson Mandela, and how many people demonstrated for a free South Africa.  I wanted to consider the people who did political and revolutionary work at great personal cost with no recognition.  I wanted to remember standing in the cold with a candle, feeling like the world could change.






Not Just Him, detail.  The faces are a discharged adinkra stamp of the symbol Nyame biribi wo soro, which means “God is in the Heavens.”  I like to use it as a base for faces.  Each face in the piece is sew-drawn over the stamp.  I draw with the sewing machine.  This isn’t drawing and then sewing over the drawing!  I draw with the machine.


DSC_0268Not just Him detail.

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Why is Alladin the Hero?

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Nov 022015



Why Alladin





















Why is Aladdin the Hero?  2006

Dimensions: 52″W x 81″L

The story of Aladdin and the lamp has always disturbed me.  I always felt the Jinn was badly used, and even in the Disney rewrite – freedom only comes to the granter of wishes once he is no longer needed.  This is my take on the story.

The background is an antique linen table cloth dye painted with fiber reactive dyes and machine quilted.  The figure of the Jinn is also dyed linen, silk and cotton fabrics with rust dyed cotton and silk.

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Break Open the Chest and Reveal the Heart

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Nov 022015


Dream Stand-In Series: Break Open the Heart and Reveal the Chest, 2014

Dimensions: 43″W x 46″L, dye painted, machine quilted, hand embellished.

This piece represents a combination of tai chi form movement and how I visualize the concept of  qi – 气  the energy our  qi gong and taiji teachers tried to teach me.  I don’t pretend to understand it – but if I had a dream about taichi, this is what that dream would look like.

The brush strokes on the back ground are dye, thickened with sodium alginate to the consistency of paint and brushed on the treated fabric.  the result is an instant, colorfast brushstroke.  You can’t take it back.






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Zaijian, Shanghai. 再见上海

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Nov 022015



Zaijian, Shanghai. 再见上海, 2015

Dimensions: 26.5″ W x 26″ L in,  hand dyed and discharged fabrics, machine and hand quilting and embellishment

This piece is the last one I made while in Shanghai.  I was already missing the traditional three story lilong building housing my studio shared with Nini Sum and Gregor Koerting of IdleBeats Fine Art Screen Printing.  I was already homesick for my friends and everything 5 years of living and learning in China had done to improve my art.  I miss it still.


The translucent silk of the figure and teapot drawings have other fabrics behind them to give just a hint of color.

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Colors of the Heart

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Nov 022015



Colors of the Heart, 2014

Dimensions: 34.5″ W x 57″ L

Hand dyed, painted and printed fabric, Ghanaian fabric, Chinese lace, metallic thread.

This piece started out as a tribute to Lois Mailou Jones, one of my black art “she-roes”.  In the end, the work describes how I feel about colors, about dyeing the colors I want for all my pieces, and about how art is barely contained inside me.

The background is entirely machine quilted in metallic threads using my trusty Bernina 1230 – a thirty year old home sewing machine.  Not everything needs a computer.


Colors of the heart

Colors of the heart

The face and hands are separate ‘mini-quilts’ that are appliqued on to the top before the whole piece is quilted.

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Gwen Lester’s Dreamscape

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Nov 022015

Dream Stand-in Series: Gwen Lester’s Dreamscape, 2014

Dimensions: 28.5  W x 33″L

The background is  fabric I painted with dye and the photo is of my father’s paternal cousin Gwen Lester at about 4 years old.  In this series I take the individual out of the family photo and place them in scenery where they would never imagine.  The series is “Dream Stand-ins” because I do not dream, or at least I do not remember my dreams.  The art ‘stands-in’ for the dreams I would like to have.

gwen dream


The photo is printed in black and white on habotai sheer silk.  The yellow in Gwen’s coat is a piece of yellow silk behind the photo.  You can click on the title to see the companion piece, Sammy Lester’s Dreamscape.  You can also see the original photo here




Nov 022015


sammy dream

Sammy Lester’s Dreamscape, 2014

Dimensions: 22″ W x 28.5″ L

This is the second piece in the Dream Stand-in series.  It is the companion piece to Gwen Lester’s Dreamscape.  In the original photo, Gwen and Sammy are standing next to each other on their front porch. See the original photo here.

The background is dye I painted on fabric.  Painting with dye means there is no stiffness to the painted parts – just the natural softness of the fabric.  The image of Sammy Lester was printed on habotai sheer silk, and another piece of blue silk is behind his coat.

sammydreamdetailThere is beading in the yellow sun shape, and both machine and hand quilting.