Brenetta Ward is a Seattle-based fabric artist, third-generation quilter, and oral historian. Her work has been exhibited at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art; Textile Center: A National Center for Fiber Art; Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA); National Afro-American Museum; Ethnic Heritage Art Gallery; Tacoma Art Museum; Northwest African American Museum and Spellman College Museum of Fine Art. Selected pieces have been published in We Are the Story: A Visual Response to Racism and Spirits of the Cloth and included in public, corporate, and private collections. As a fiber artist, she believes quilts have the power to nurture our spiritual needs for creativity, beauty, and comfort.
With the exception of love, friendship and the beauty of art I don't see much else that can nurture human life.
I combine traditional quilting techniques, ethnic fabrics and African design aesthetics to create quilted legacies. My quilting style honors my Southern roots and incorporates a range of techniques. Using cultural textiles, vintage photographs and symbolic embellishments, I construct contemporary quilts that keep you warm, narrative quilts that tell cultural stories and fabric art that celebrates the spirit of the cloth.
My art is influenced by my values, life experiences, spiritual beliefs and culture. The integration of these elements guides my creative expression. I believe fiber is a powerful influence in our lives. It is the first thing we are swaddled in when we are born, and it is the last thing we are wrapped in when we leave this earthly life.
Many of my pieces feature Mud Cloth, a textile from Mali. The narrow strips of this handwoven cotton are stitched together into a whole cloth, then resist-painted with symbols using dye made from the local mud. I carefully deconstruct the strips of fabric to use in my art. I believe its connection to the earth of my ancestors’ homeland provides a powerful bond to my own history and personal story.
As an oral historian, I especially enjoy designing pieces that pay tribute to African Americans whose contributions to our shared history have not been sufficiently recognized.