Updated: Feb 7
It's Black History Month and, while I hope to feature many many more artists in the future, I didn't want to let this month pass without introducing you to some of my personal favorite and inspiring creatives as I hope to celebrate their hopes, history and freedoms while helping to share the work that they are doing presently to propel black creatives towards more equitable representation in the quilting industry and to preserve the dark and uncomfortable history of black people in America.
Initially, when planning this post, I was a bit nervous about how to best honor and uplift these artist and creatives in a way that would reflect my best intentions, which align with my personal mission to create spaces and promote other people within this creative community above all other things.
As I began reaching out, I wanted to be sure to receive permission to share these artists work and to make sure that I was sharing the things that they most wanted to featured. I am aware that representation matters every month of the year (not just February for Black History Month), and have plans to feature a diverse selection of artists in the future, as well, knowing that, like representation, the artwork of black artists is not only relevant during this one month.
I want to thank the women that are featured in this article for granting my request to feature their works in this very small way and for allowing me to share snippets of their efforts to preserve their individual and collective family histories.
Beverly Y. Smith is a multimedia fiber artist who's work on quilts first captured my eye last year on Instagram. Her art frequently features vintage garments and nostalgic pieces that pay homage to her southern roots while focusing on historical encounters, stories of her ancestors and of injustices and controversial topics.
She finds inspiration in the stories of her family and memories and uses graphite, paint and embroidery to absolutely transform fabric into visual wonders. Aside from creating beautiful art, she creates a rich and friendly community on Instagram where she RADIATES joy into this art quilt community!
Beverly's work, Evangeline, will be on exhibit in France at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork September 14-17, 2023. Below, you can find photos of this beautiful piece as well as Beverly's artist statement:
After the Civil War, many freed people used newspaper ads to find family members separated by war, slavery, and emancipation.
These ads documented the extent of Black families separated and the persistent efforts people made to find their love ones.
Through my quilts, my ancestors beckon me to find family members as early as the 1700s.
My attempt through a series of quilts ”Last Seen Wearing” calls out their names.
1. Title: Evangeline 1865. Date completed: 2022. Size: 79”x41”.
2. (Detail) Graphite portrait rendering. Last owner Elizabeth BLAYLOCK/Whisonant.
3. (Artistic license) From placed on an auction block to placed on a pedestal. Red boots/layer of protection.
4. (Detailed) Vintage log cabin quilt blocks… used as secret codes during underground railroad. 1940s flour sack patchworks.
E Bond is an artist, educator, writer, bookbinder, designer, poet and all around creative inspiration! I have loved watching her work evolve and grow, but it would be absolutely remiss of me not to mention my most favorite work of hers: fabric.
As a quilter with a "unique" style, I tend to seek out fabrics and textiles with moodier vibes and more earthy tones. When the fabric industry is flooded with floral prints and cutesy vintage-vibe illustrations, it's difficult to find fabric prints that feel like they represent your style, but when E announced her new collections (Glyph and Root) with Free Spirit Fabrics, I completely freaked out!
Combining her bookbinding and art passions, E creates one-of-a-kind books and journals at roughdrAftbooks that aim to inspire and foster creativity in people by encouraging them to use of the beautiful things we own instead of saving them for special occasions..
"Deciding to create roughdrAftbooks grew as a natural extension of the personal work I was making. It finally became real when I knew I wanted to make the books I was making for myself on a larger scale for other people. It came out of this core belief that art and utility can live together in the same object. We need not save our precious things for special occasions; the special occasion is always now. I want to foster this idea by making beautiful books that people can use every day to document the moments of their extraordinary lives and the world around them."
– E Bond, roughdrAftbooks
Vickeidy is someone that I've met recently (virtually) and who's work and style I have been so drawn to from the first moment that I saw it! She is a teacher in New York City, a momma, and a fourth generation sewist!
As a fellow quilt pattern, she uses beautiful and bright colors to create minimal designs that feel familiar, yet completely new!
Her love for the Instagram quilting community is evident in her loving and supportive engagement, but she's taken that love a step farther and has co-created the What Is Love? Modern Quilt Block Event with some of my most favorite Quiltstagram designers!
You can head over to Vickeidy's blog to get your copy of all 15 beautiful and unique blocks and finish at your own pace, or catch up with the group that started on February 1st! I cannot wait to see how people place and assemble their blocks to make their own unique quilts and I highly encourage you to follow along, even if you aren't a quilter- it is always so inspiring to see how many different creatives take the same concepts and create completely different pieces from one another!
You can catch the Instagram progress of people participating in the event with the hashtag: #whatislovecollab
OR, find Vickeidy, herself, on Instagram as @Sewspicious
ANOTHER New Yorker, Porfiria is a hopeless romantic longing for days spent in the French countryside and her beautiful work and style definitely reflects that! Along with the above mentioned quilt along event that she's also co-created, Porfiria has her creative hands in every aspect of her life.
Her passion for teaching beginner quilt skills is evident in the work that she has put into The Color Connection working to empower and educate new quilters. This team of incredible designers works together to form colorful connections in the quilty community through their events, collaborations and patterns.
Porfiria's designs are fun and feature big, bold blocks that result in amazing quilts for beginners and experienced quilters seeking modern and minimal finishes - you KNOW I'm all about this! I was drawn to her energy for pouring her joy into this community and I have remained a fangirl ever since!
Most of us know one of those people that's just talented at everything they try, but I'm pretty sure that these people couldn't even keep up with Miss Kymona. On her website's 'About Me' page, she calls herself The Energizer Bunny's sister and, if you spend even just a moment scrolling her Instagram profile, you wouldn't doubt it for a moment! Between her work in a hospital using her public health background and her ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE travel itineraries, you find her deep passion for being a mother to a son and daughter woven throughout her life.
Kymona's creativity is an incredible wonder and I love following along to watch what her latest interests are. From, quilting, candle making and wood stamping, to sewing pouches, creating bath products and her current focus: weaving, she pours her heart into these items and has a wide variety available to purchase in her online shop Kreative Kymona.
So, if you love beautifully handmade items, travel, and a truly authentic woman to support and to be inspired by, Kymona is your girl!
You can follow her on Instagram (be sure to check out her story highlights for maximum inspo!) as @kreativekymona.
OR, https://kreativekymonastore.com/ and find amazing gifts and handmade items!
Sandra is a designer and artist known for her incredible reworking of upcycled denim and for her talent in creating wearable art. With many publication features and ever-growing notoriety, her passion for teaching these skills remains at the top of her priorities. Heavily engaged with the Instagram art and quilt communities, there's truly nothing better than seeing her beautiful and warm smile glow up your scroll.
She has a few patterns available, including the Maggie's Squares Quilt Pattern, pictured above and holds workshops to create this beautiful work, as well.
Being able to take a class from Sandra would be an absolute dream, but at the moment, I'm "settling" for a lecture at the upcoming QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta Georgia and I cannot wait to attend! Below, you can find the date and time details, as well as the lecture description:
Friday, February 24, 2023
6:00pm – 7:00pm Atlanta Time
In years past, quilts have been used as resources in reconstructing the experiences of enslaved African-American women. Quilts have acted as historical records of the cultural and political past of enslaved people and have assisted in documenting their contributions to quilting as an art form. In this lecture, Sandra will discuss how enslaved women were responsible for spinning, weaving, sewing, and quilting for their enslavers. She will also discuss the lives of the enslaved quilters and their enslavers as well as the significance of the fabrics and patterns that were used to make the quilts.
As mentioned above, Sandra's wearable art and garments are a huge part of her contribution to the art and quilting world. Her stitching techniques pair beautifully with her fabric choices to create incredibly modern and stylistically relevant articles of clothing.
Her sashiko style handstitching has become a staple in her work, adding to piecing that comes alive when cut and assembled.
I hope that you will head to Instagram and find her beautiful artwork! You can find her on Instagram as @sandraleedesign
OR, discover her beautifully worded artist statement on her website