Welcome to #amplifymelanatedstitchers, where we feature needlework and textile art by Black or Indigenous People of Colour.
Bryana Bibbs is a Chicago-based textile artist, painter, and art educator whose woven fibre work comes from her personal life, struggles with daily occurrences, the ultimate strive for comfort, and trying to figure out life one step at a time.
“My work is based on my love for journaling and my struggles with mental health, acceptance, relationships, and other personal matters. All of my work is based on a certain chapter in my life or is made to represent my day-to-day life.
“The way that I represent my life in my work is through the use of color and mark-making. I also enjoy knowing that my work can be “universal”, meaning that the viewer can have their own personal experience with the piece rather than me telling them how to feel.
“Along with the use color and the symbolism that often comes along with it, I think the use of line and mark-making is also very important. A line is something that is used to tell a story, to map things out, take things away, and create a timeline. And I think when color and line are combined, the two tell a story.“
Bryana’s most recent series have been a direct response to lockdown and personal expression within a restricted context. The Quarantine Series from 2020 are experimental weavings that explore the use of “non-traditional” and traditional weaving materials. These weavings were completed from March 25 – July 10, 2020 during the “Shelter in Place” order for the state of Illinois.
“The point of this series is to conduct educational studies for what can be woven. With having limited resources during this pandemic it was important for me to use materials that I had already had or had never thought of using.“
This is a very empowering idea, in that we often think of weaving as having these technological barriers to entry, whereas Bryana encourages you to take the malleable materials around you to literally weave a narrative of your own experience. And you don’t need to just limit yourself to imposed exile for such a project…
“The JOURNAL Series is a series that documents my life. After completing the Quarantine Series, I wanted to continue my studies in experimentation while also documenting my day-to-day. Handwritten journaling has been a huge part of my life ever since I was 5 years old, so I look at these weavings as an extension of my current handwritten journal entries. Each weaving was completed on a 15” wooden frame loom with hand-spun materials that are all hand-carded and hand-spun me.“
There’s no denying the woven projects can take time – heaven knows how long the large scale works of Erin Riley must take, but in the Journal Series Bryana is placing urgency in the work, forcing her to be decisive in the execution. An entry needs to be done within a short context so there’s no time for dithering or editing, and that’s truly refreshing.
Furthernmore, by using materials she has nearby, each piece is not only an expression of time, but also of space, and it contains Bryana’s own narrative which, as she previously stated, is open to you to interpret. The work is as brave as it is beautiful and the more you visit the work, the more you can decipher your own language with the medium.
Bryana also produces large scale works, painting on her own woven cotton to address a range of issues, including narcissistic abuse and domestic violence, and her passion for the power of art as a therapeutic tool has also manifested in The We Were Never Alone Project – A Weaving Workshop for Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence.
Are you a BIPOC artist working in needlecraft or Textile Art? Get in touch so we can share your work!