Bisa Butler (born c. 1975) in 1975) is an American fiber artist, known for her quilted images as well as designs celebrating the black experience. She has had her work displayed on the Smithsonian Museum of American History as well as the Epcot Center as well as The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center as well as other places.
Career and life
Her birthplace was from Orange, New Jersey, and grew up within South Orange, and graduated from Columbia High School in 1991. She studied the field of Fine Art and Fine Art at Howard University, where she took classes with Romare Bearden. She also attended lectures by famous black artists like Lois Mailou Jones. As she pursued a master’s at Howard University, she took an Fiber Art class that influenced her to choose quilting as an art form. In an interview, she said, “As a child, I was always watching my mother and grandmother sew, and they taught me. After that class, I made a quilt for my grandmother on her deathbed, and I have been quilting ever since.”
Butler obtained a master’s diploma with a concentration in Art Education from Montclair State University in 2004. The school she taught in was the Newark Public Schools. She currently lives and is employed at Orange, NJ .
Butler generally is known for her bright jewel tones instead of depictional colors. Her quilts typically depict famous people from black historical times, like Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jackie Robinson as well as Josephine Baker. She makes use of a variety of patterns which she chooses to depict the life of the subject with clothing that was that the subject wore. The portrait she painted of Nina Simone, for example is constructed of silk, cotton, velvet and netting. the one of Jean-Michel Basquiat is composed of cotton, leather along with vintage denim.
She has shown extensively. In 2018, she participated in EXPO Chicago and was praised by Newcity as well as The Chicago Reader. In February of 2019, her work was featured alongside the work by Romare Bearden at The Art of Jazz The Art of Jazz, which was a Black History Month exhibition in Morristown, New Jersey. Butler’s quilts have been featured in art publications such as Journey of Hope: Quilts inspired by Barack Obama (2010) and Journey of Hope: Quilts Inspired by Barack Obama (2010) and Collaborations 2 Decades of African American Art : Hearne Fine Art 1988-2008 (2008) and on sites such as Blavity as well as Colossal. A solo exhibit of her work will take place in Katonah Museum of Art. Katonah Museum of Art from March 15 through June 14, 2020.