Alice Beasley, Fabric Artist for Hope and Change

“Blue Burqas”

“There are a lot of notions on both sides of the burqa issue, but I think beneath the veil are just women, with the same hopes, desires, fears, dreams and suspicions as everyone else.”  Quilt composed of cotton and silk fabrics. Alice Beasley.  Image by Sibila Savage Photography

I was first introduced to Alice Beasley’s work through her quilt made to honor President Barack Obama in honor of his inauguration.  The piece was part of an exhibition curated by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi called "Journey of Hope."  Beasley wove these words taken from Obama’s inauguration address into the border of the quilt, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of the earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hates shall someday pass..."

Alice Beasley, Image by Sibila Savage Photography

Alice Beasley, Image by Sibila Savage Photography

It’s a fine epigraph and Beasley incorporates this view into her own work.  From Oakland, California, Alice Beasley is an artist who works in fabric to create realistic portraits of people and objects.  In her artist statement she says that, “I find color, light, shadow, line and value in the pattern of ordinary household fabrics as well as from fabrics that I print myself. From these I snip small pieces, which I arrange and fuse into a figurative composition. As such the work grows from within rather than being applied to the surface of a canvas by paint, pencil, or similar drawing tools. When the image is complete, I sew it together with the stitch line, constituting the final “drawn” line.”

"We are a Nation," Alice Beasley, 2009.  Image by Sibila Savage Photography

Beasley’s work, “No Vote, No Voice” won first place at the Petaluma Arts Center Show, The NeuwPolitic:  Artists Explore.”  Artists who contributed to the exhibit were asked to consider in their work that, “Now is the time for a much-needed dialogue surrounding politics; can art help start these conversations and facilitate the connections that are so needed?”  Beasley seems to answer “yes” to this question, as witnessed in many of her works. 

No Vote, No Voice”

“In 2014 a conservative majority in the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act thereby becoming complicit in the active suppression of the votes of minority citizens by state legislatures. Over the past four years—and for the first time since the Jim Crow era—nearly two dozen states have passed new laws making it harder to vote.”  Quilt composed of cotton and silk fabrics.  Alice Beasley.  Image by Sibila Savage Photography

Recent politically inclined work includes, an “Ode to the Gator in Chief,” called “Feeding Time at the Swamp,” which will be on exhibit in a solo show opening June 3 at Bay Quilts in Richmond, California and then continuing as part of the nationally traveling exhibition “Threads of Resistance.”

Beasley said of the work, “it was shameful actions such as the new TrumpNoCare Act that caused me to make this new piece called ‘Feeding Time at the Swamp’.  We're all being fed to the greedy reptiles in this heartless administration one body part at a time.”

"Ode to the Gator in Chief," Alice Beasley.  Image by Sibila Savage Photography

Learn more about Beasley’s art in this video that includes details about “Blood Line,”  which was included in the “Stories of Migration:  Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora” exhibit at the George Washington University Textile Museum.  Learn more about Beasley's work on her website and facebook page.