Attending Howard University in Washington, DC in 1969 changed my life. It was at Howard that I fell in love with myself. The experience was rich with historical references and powerful images. My professors were some of the most influential African American artists of their time. They encouraged me to find my own voice. I see their influence and design sensibilities in my work. I am committed to creating positive images that celebrate my ancient culture. My art tells stories that I feel are important, connecting spirituality, tradition and nature.
It is the process of creating compositions that suggest multiple layers that fascinates me. I’m attempting to produce cloth that is mysterious and opulent; the idea of seeing almost invisible images created by color and stitch intrigues me.
As a textile artist, I have chosen to express myself using dye, fabric markers, discharging agents, textile paint and a host of wet materials.
I appreciate and enjoy working in a series. For me a series provides an opportunity to explore different aspects of an idea or subject. In this “Roots and Refuge” series I’m encouraging one to consider roots as metaphors. Roots, like people, are intertwined and connected. My intent is to challenge the viewer to see the beauty and complexity of roots.
As I moved forward with the work, questions arose: are the shapes and colors of roots influenced by where they grow? Would the roots under a church where there are many prayers be different from those that grow under a school? Lastly, who was there before the roots?
Valerie C. White