This series combines several influences that have personally been relevant to my art-making process. The work grew out of my experimentation with the use of quilting techniques based on traditions from Africa and Gees Bend, Alabama as a way to tell stories and record oral histories. The manner in which individuals in these portrait collages are presented, was heavily influenced by posters from the period of resistance against apartheid in South Africa. The union posters are now iconic examples of the strong printmaking tradition that grew out of resistance and artistic movements that began in the townships, and which often created “heroic” figures out of ordinary people. The individuals portrayed in the portrait collage series are primarily female domestic and farm workers.
The collages themselves consist of a multi-layered, two-dimensional piece. I print images on Mitsumata fiber paper, which is then soaked in shellac to provide a transparency that allows me to rework both the front and back of the image. The transparency of the paper allows me to layer images on top of one another so that the final piece is essentially multidimensional.