Textile art

A detail from the Milton Library exhibit by Beth Neville.

America’s rich cultural heritage has many sources around the globe, and one of them, African ethnic art, is celebrated in my eight hand-stitched cloth banners on display at the Milton Public Library.

I first learned about African sculpture in 1958 at Ladislas Segy’s gallery in New York City. His book “African Sculpture,”pictures wood carvings of animals, humans, and spirit ancestors. 

The wood carvings were used by secret societies and for religious rituals by the Bakuba and Bambara and other ethnic groups in West Africa. 

My inspiration also comes from cloth originally hand-woven by the Asante and Ewe groups in Ghana. 

Today the patterns are copied in printed cloth and used by African American women for colorful celebratory garments. 

Much of the fabric in the banners comes from cloth I have collected for decades or that I hand painted. 

We are fortunate in the United States to be able to experience and celebrate many cultures. These strands weave together, making a unique art synthesis. 

I have lived my entire life in multicultural communities and express that in my art. I don’t believe that any one person or group has exclusive ownership of a tradition.

(For the rest of the story and more photos of the art, read the Milton Times issue of Jan. 16 page 24 in print or online.)

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