Bisa Butler: The Artist Redefining Black Narratives through Quilting

Bisa Butler is a contemporary artist whose works have taken the world by storm. From her bold use of color to the intricate details of her quilting techniques, Bisa’s artworks represent a refreshingly new take on black narratives. In this article, we’ll explore some of Bisa’s most exceptional works and discover where you can see them in person.

Who is Bisa Butler?

Bisa Butler is a New Jersey-based artist of Ghanaian descent. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Howard University and later went on to study at the Pratt Institute in New York City, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts in Painting.

Bisa’s works draw inspiration from African textiles, arts, and its traditions, providing a contemporary take on African American histories. Her works honor and celebrate the black identity and their stories. Her eye-catching pieces showcase the beauty of black culture, but her work is more rooted in history and memory.

Bisa Butler is a master of quilting, and her works symbolize quilting’s tradition in African American communities. She believes that African textile traditions profoundly inform African American cultures, and that comes out in her art pieces.

Bisa Butler’s Most Famous Artwork

‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Bisa Butler is one of her most recognized works. This piece was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey for the American Collection of the renowned Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. This artwork is a tribute to the famous African American poet and author, Dr. Maya Angelou. The artwork showcases the life, challenges, and overall story of Maya Angelou.

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The quilt highlights Maya Angelou’s essential moments, from her birthplace in St. Louis, Missouri, to her illustrious career as a poet and civil rights leader. The artwork features various swatches of fabrics with different textures and colors. The fabrics are patched together to create the unique and captivating artwork.

Southside Sunday Morning by Bisa Butler

Another of Bisa Butler’s remarkable works is the Southside Sunday Morning. This piece features a black family, three generations sitting together on a couch, commemorating the family and community relationships that defined the Sunday mornings of her youth.

The piece portrays the struggle of black families, and how they managed to stick together despite the oppressions and challenges they faced. The artwork’s multicolored patches tell a story of resilience and strength. The piece is bursting with life and exudes warmth and love, capturing beautifully the essence of the Black family.

Bisa Butler Exhibits

Bisa Butler’s art pieces have been featured in various exhibitions worldwide. These exhibitions provide an excellent opportunity for art lovers to enjoy her stunning creations and explore deeply the narratives behind her works. Here are some exhibits featuring the works of Bisa Butler:

1. Art Institute of Chicago

Bisa Butler’s ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ was featured at the Art Institute Of Chicago in the year 2019. The exhibition highlighted the science and artistry behind Bisa’s quilting practice, including the patterns, materials, and techniques she employs to bring her works to life. This exhibit was a significant milestone for Bisa Butler and helped introduce her works to a wider and more diverse audience.

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2. Katonah Museum of Art

In the year 2020, the Katonah Museum of Art featured an exhibition dubbed ‘Bisa Butler: Portraits.’ This exhibition showcased some of Bisa’s most recognized artworks, including the world-famous ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ and the ‘Southside Sunday Morning.’ The exhibit was open to visitors from March 2020 to June 2020.

3. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Bisa Butler’s works will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibit dubbed ‘Bisa Butler: Portraits’ is slated to run from November 21, 2021, to April 24, 2022. The exhibition will provide enthusiasts with a unique opportunity to explore Bisa’s artworks while delving deeply into Black heritage and histories.

4. Next Bisa Butler Exhibit

In the year 2023, Bisa Butler’s works will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The exhibit dubbed ‘Bisa Butler: Every Fiber of My Being’ will feature Bisa’s most exceptional works, paying tribute to influential African American men and women.


With her quilts and tapestries, Bisa Butler has captured the attention of the art world, coming up with never-seen-before pieces of art depicting Black narratives. Her works are intimate and captivating, unraveling stories of Black pain and struggle, yet showcasing the resilience and strength of Black individuals and communities.

Bisa Butler’s works have brought a new dimension to African American traditions in the art world. Her amazing artworks are some of the best examples of quilt narratives as a source of conversation and storytelling. If you haven’t yet, make sure to visit one of her exhibitions and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of Black history and culture that her art communicates.

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