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Bisa Butler: Portraits was the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work, featuring her vivid and larger-than-life quilts that capture African American identity and culture. The show, on view at the Katonah Museum of Art (KMA) from March 15 to June 14, 2020, then traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) where it was on view from September 5, 2020 to January 24, 2021. Butler, a formally trained African American artist of Ghanaian heritage, broaches the dividing line between creating with paints on canvas and creating with fiber by fashioning magnificent quilts and elevating a medium hitherto designated as craft into one that is clearly high art. While quilts have historically been isolated in the history of art as the products of working women, Butler’s work not only acknowledges this tradition, but also reinvents it. Continuing with an aesthetic set in motion by artists such as Romare Bearden and Faith Ringgold, Butler forges an individual and expressive signature style that draws upon her own cultural background and experiences.

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