Bisa Butler: Portraits – Temporary Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago

Bisa Butler is an American fiber artist born in 1973 that is known for her vibrant, quilted portraits celebrating Black life – from everyday people to notable historical figures.

Her quilts present an expansive view of history through their engagement with themes such as family, community, migration, the promise of youth, and artistic and intellectual legacies. Bisa Butler: Portraits is the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work and includes over 20 portraits.

The ones that captured my attention while visiting this temporary exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in March 2021 are presented below:

Dear Mama (2019)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

Four Little Girls, September 16, 1963 (2018)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

The Princess (2018)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

The Safety Patrol (2018)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

Kindred (2019)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

One Vote Can Change the World (2008)

Cotton, wool, and chiffon; appliquéd and quilted.

An exhibition playlist created by the artist and her husband John Butler can be accessed through this link. This other link also provides additional information about the exhibition, including an interesting video about Butler’s art.

The exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Katonah Museum of Art.

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