Black Then. White Now: Art by Omolara Williams McCallister
This Nigerian-American southern conceptual artist, Omolara Williams McCallister, is taking a critical look at the intersections of their cultural identities.
This Nigerian-American southern-born conceptual artist, Omolara Williams McCallister, is taking a critical look at the intersections of their cultural identities. McCallister utilizes textiles and fibers to create interactive installation and performance pieces to further examine the intricacies of their gender-fluidity, race, and history.
"My work with fibers and textiles started as a child," McCallister tells Call + Response. "My mother is a seamstress and a quilter like her grandmothers before her. My paternal grandmother was a milliner. I started out making pieced quilts and clothing. I later began creating head adornments."
With the use of re-purposed materials, McCallister draws attention to oral traditions, stories, and histories passed down from one generation to another- a recycling of words and experiences embodied in diasporic Black culture.
"Ten years ago I began applying the various fiber based skills that I had learned and observed around me to start creating more conceptual art that explores the various social, political and economic realities that defined lives of my fore mothers. The same realities that are currently causing many of the textile and fiber traditions that were nurtured and sustained in their communities to die out."
McCallister utilizes various materials such as, un-dyed cotton muslin, burlap, lace, and indigo, to take the viewer on a visual journal. In their world, cotton represents slave labor, embroidery as the woman's realm of domestic labor, cowrie shells for West Africa. With each piece, McCallister weaves a story through time, trauma, and identity. We're excited to see where McCallister's introspection will take them next!
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