My aim is to teach Black art history through textile and clothing. I want to offer a jumping off point for people who would like to learn more about the less widely covered people and subjects in art history.
Every artist inspired one pattern and one illustrated print, so there are a total of six designs. Looking at the core of every artist's body of work, visually and conceptually, I ask the questions "what was this artist's purpose? How did they influence Black art and culture, and how did it influence them in turn?"
Aaron Douglas combined modern African-American imagery with aspects of West-African cultures. Jacob Lawrence reported on true stories and significant events in Black communities through paintings. Belkis Ayón was the first person ever to be allowed a look into the Marroon communities of Cuba, and put their secret history and stories on canvas.
Stories through patterns
Every design is inspired by the work of one of the three artists, and based on a subject from either the Netherlands, Suriname, or Curaçao. I wanted to pay homage to African wax print fabrics, also known as Ankara fabrics, but in a non-appropriating way so it can be comfortably worn by anybody, with or without African heritage.
From left to right: the green pattern is inspired by Belkis Ayón, and based on the flag and culture of the Saamaka in Suriname.
The "crowd" pattern is inspired by Jacob Lawrence, and based on the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
The blue pattern is inspired by Aaron Douglas, and based on the harvest festival in Curaçao, Seú. During this festival, people play music and dance through the streets in traditional clothing. Corn is one of the more common harvests.
Screenprints and embroidery
Every subject has both a pattern and an illustration. I used more of the visual aspects of each artist for the illustrations. They tell a story in a more clearly communicated way, and are in general more casual than the bright patterns.
Because I wanted to be involved in the production process as much as possible, I screenprinted everything myself. The embroidery was done by machine by a family member and by a local business.