Quilted portraits by Bisa Butler celebrate the fabric of Black life

Think of it as painting with cloth. Artist Bisa Butler talks about her unique quilted portraits — life-sized pieces that honour the accomplishments of Black Americans.
Artist Bisa Butler with her work, Broom Jumpers. (Bolu Gbadebo, Claire Oliver Gallery)

Twenty-five years ago, visual artist Bisa Butler had an unexpected breakthrough while she was pregnant with her first daughter in her final year of university, studying fine art. 

Overcome by nausea from the smell of paint and unable to work on her thesis, Butler turned to fabric to make her "paintings" out of textiles. She never looked back.

Today, Butler is a world-renowned quilt artist who honours the long tradition of African American quilting by sewing incredible life-sized portraits of Black men and women.

She joined q guest host Talia Schlanger live from New Jersey to tell us more about her work and how it celebrates the accomplishments of Black Americans.

See a gallery of her work below.

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      Click the 'Listen' link near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Bisa Butler.

      Produced by Vanessa Greco


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