The Covering: A Retrospective Celebrating Wini McQueen by Christine Miller
March 26, 2021
SDA member Wini “Akissi” McQueen’s art draws upon many approaches of surface design in her mixed media work that include dyeing, shibori, quilting, wax resist, and painting. Her recent retrospective, The Covering, at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Georgia reflects her life long relationship with cotton. She uses cotton to connect the various threads of history, artistic expression, and family in her artistic journey.
This three gallery exhibition features richly layered, contemporary quilts and mixed media two-dimensional collages. The Covering moves from intimate works to sculptural forms, including a large, bright “canopy” of hand-dyed fabrics. The garments on display in the exhibition draw from the African traditions of dyed cloth and hand sewn construction. She works with image, color, and texture to create work that reaches back into her family’s past as slaves. The narrative aspects of some of her artworks include visual depictions of slaves enchained and tortured in order to raise cotton to be a commodity that created vast wealth in this country and enriched the slaves’ owners. Through image transfers and printed text, the viewer is connected to the reality of cotton production in the southern United States during slavery. Her artistic expression draws from the story of cotton as it has danced among generations involved in its production and use.
Throughout this exhibition, she offers powerful metaphorical themes related to cotton, the fabric medium that has “covered her life” and threads throughout her work. Grounded in a rich history of crafts, McQueen is redefining the traditional art of quilt making through the use of modern textiles and innovative improvisational techniques. Known as a gifted and insightful storyteller, she has earned national recognition for her use of textiles to document oral histories and explore issues of race, class, society, and gender roles.
A wonderful interview with the artist, in the museum galleries of her retrospective, delves into the deep history of her life, as well as the challenges and successes of her artistic process. You can learn more about McQueen and her rich career in a recent Macon Magazine article, in the African American Visual Artists Database, and on Wikipedia.
- Wini McQueen, artist
- Dorothy O Brown, Craig Coleman, Marvin Holloway, collaborating artists
- Susan Welch, Museum Director and Exhibit Curator
- Tabitha Walker, Big Hair Productions, filmmaker
– Christine Miller