the 3 women

art talk behind the scenes black art black artist black women creative process dimension fabric


Sometimes when I create something, I'm pulling from a download from Spirit. Such was the case with this painting. I saw the three women, I saw their hair and their clothes, and I saw what order they were in. When Spirit gives me these visions, some of the specifics are often missing. So I didn't know until I got in the fabric store which color fabric belonged to which woman. But I knew the general shape of their clothing and its "personality". 

These women are 3 in a generational line. Now whether they're mothers and daughters, or 3 women from different moments in time but from the same family, or something else, I don't know. All I know is that they're related and this is what they look like. They don't have faces because I often don't paint faces on pieces like this to make the piece itself more resonant. If you look at this you see who you want to see (your mom, fave aunt, yourself, et cetera) not who I want you to see. 

I made their hair from fabric. The woman with the afro was (arguably) the easiest. I built dimension using Styrofoam, and cut oddly shaped pieces of black fabric to mimic the texture of an afro. 

For the grey locs, I used old newspaper to shape the hair, and wrapped it with grey fabric. This part was the trickiest because of the amount of glue I had to use to make the paper locs retain their shape. I then had to add more glue to make sure the fabric stayed in place and didn't come apart at the seam as it dried, and more glue to adhere it to the canvas. It was a sticky situation (see what I did there? no? okay...sulks).

The lady with the headwrap was a challenge because I wanted the shape to be perfect (which is foolish) but I was also looking for an almost effortless seam between her head, which is painted, and the fabric coming off the canvas, which isn't. I used cardboard to add dimension and made several iterations before I was satisfied. 

I love working with fabric and adding tangible dimension to a piece. I've done it a few times now, and each time is like the first time because it's exciting. Ironing the fabric is my least favorite part, but I know it'll get me to the desired end. 

How do I know when I'm done? When there's more to add but I know adding it will spoil the piece. And the thing about these intuitive pieces is, no matter how hard I try, I can't recreate the spirit behind the piece; so even if I attempt to recreate the piece, it doesn't look the same. Which is cool because it keeps things fresh. 


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