Mama is an act of personal reclamation, affirmation, and celebration. This hand-sewn textile banner depicts a goddess-like figure with an afro of flowers on an ocean shore, holding a plant and a shell. Through assemblage, appliqué, and embroidery of recycled cloth, I combine my own likeness with symbols of my places of origin – Jamaica and South Carolina – and claim the resilience, beauty, and nurturing that they represent. The central figure is a self-portrait, made from cotton muslin hand-dyed in tea and embroidered. Mama’s hair (made of painted and dyed lace pieces) references the flowers of the Lignum Vitae (a.k.a. Ironwood), a Caribbean hardwood tree known for its healing properties (and the national flower of Jamaica). The Queen Conch is also native to the Caribbean and is a personal totem – shells represent that which is beautiful and strong built intuitively over time. Utricularia, in her hand, is a carnivorous aquatic plant common in the southeastern US, whose submerged roots make food of underwater insects.
Throughout my practice, I explore personal and collective preservation, restoration, and expansion. Handmade banners (dyed, stitched, torn, appliqued, inked, embroidered) reference the visual, kinetic, and metaphoric elements of parades. They often feature intimate stories and symbols of personal history; making these works is a process of reclamation, documentation, myth creation. My work prods the spaces between our individual and collective parades of self – assuming an audience, crafted for display – and our experience of living within that presentation: what do we say/display of ourselves to ourselves? How does it shape us as we shape it? Each piece I make is worked entirely by hand – pushing into the intimacy and tenderness that cloth allows, in contrast, and/or conversation with the boldness of parade.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alexandra Beaumont is a textile artist and dancer. She was born and raised in South Carolina to a Jamaican father and American mother, both working musicians. She attended the residential South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities throughout high school, focusing on dance and visual arts, and went on to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where she studied fashion design. After working in New York City as a menswear designer, she returned to a fine arts practice, incorporating her love for fabrics and hand sewing. She now lives in Minneapolis, MN, where she makes work centering themes of personal reconstruction, community, and celebratory display.
© Alexandra Beaumont”Buy