Tina Williams Brewer
Tina Williams Brewer
Tina Williams Brewer’s fiber art reveals her exploration of African American cultural identity. Channeling messages from the ancestors, notions of family, spiritual life, and cultural history are intertwined in patterns, symbols, and sewn lines.
Often described as art quilts, Brewer’s art acts as ber story maps. Inspired by the Lukasa memory boards, wooden mnemonic devices to reinterpret oral traditions and events, her quilts function as guideposts of both well-known and hidden paths of how we can experience this world. Similar to how memory boards reveal more layers of knowledge through a special interpreter, her work operates on multiple levels and with many layers of meaning.
Using layers of color and transparent cloth, Brewer finds links between past, present, and future. As she explores her heritage and the African Diaspora, she likens her path to an archeological dig. She investigates and carefully unearths what is hidden to understand history more fully.
Brewer describes her work as “celebrations of the profound joy of gathering with loved ones and the powerful resilience of spiritual connections. They are expressions of the deep pain of racism, the sorrowful breakdown of the family and loss of the innocence of children. My intention is to give dignity to the human suffering, finding rhythms that are both mind-stirring and soul-soothing.”
She is a recipient of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Governor’s Awards for the Arts, Artist of the Year; two National Endowments for the Arts grants; Carroll Harris Simms National Black Arts Awardee; two Black Arts Initiative grants, supported by The Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh Foundation; two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships; the Walter Gropus Master Artist Award; Lifetime Achievement Award from Pittsburgh Center for the Arts; and a Master Visual Artist for the Pittsburgh region. She is the past president of Women of Visions, Inc., a member of Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, and an emeritus board member of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. She initiated the Society for Contemporary Craft’s museum/school partnership and, through the Arts in Education division of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, she is a resident teaching artist in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Brewer’s work has been displayed in more than 50 major venues across the United States, including American Craft Museum, New York City; the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Washington, D.C.; Tampa Museum of Art and Science, Tampa, FL; Heinz Regional History Center, Pittsburgh, PA; African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA; African American Museum, Dallas, TX; Reginald Lewis Museum of African American Art in Baltimore, MD; and Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV. Her work is also in the permanent collection of the State Museum of Pennsylvania and the United States Embassies in Khartoum, Sudan, and Ghana through the Department of State’s Artists in Embassies Program. This past summer, the African American Museum in Dallas, Texas presented a retrospective of her work.
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUE
My designs are a free-flow approach to quilting akin to the crazy quilt patchwork, log cabin, and applique traditions. My quilts consist of many layers of opaque and transparent fabric overlays that provide the visual depth and movement to tell the story. I consider a light source to aid in definition and clarity of the abstract surface. The final layer consists of metallic threads, beads, and jewels. I use a variety of fabrics collected over many years from all over the world. All the quilts are predominately hand quilted mixed media, some include photo transfer.