Collages inspired by Bisa Butler

Figure collages using mono-printed paper

For this project, young artists were heavily inspired by the artwork of Bisa Butler, a contemporary collage quilter who creates colorful portraits using fabrics.

Please tag @harborcreativearts, message, email, or share with me if you use or adapt this lesson! I’d love to see. []

The unit components:

  • learning how to draw the figure by practicing drawing people posing and using wood figures
  • focusing on proportions of the body
  • learning about the history of breakdancing
  • researching types of breakdancing moves and freezes
  • practice drawings of people in breakdancing poses
  • investigating the artwork of Bisa Butler [slide show can be found here]
  • a class session making a big stack of bold printed GelliArts mono-prints
  • choosing a photograph of one, and tracing the silhouette/contour lines on to a white paper
  • filling in the figure silhouettes with the printed papers using Bisa Butler’s fabric collages as inspiration

Note: Because the students worked so hard practicing people but didn’t have super strong skills yet, I let them trace photos they found to get a strong silhouette. (This was middle school.) Also, students were given the option of breakdancing or yoga poses for the final project.

Final [bonus} step:

Students also superimposed their art on to a background using the Photoshop Mix app.

  • Students photographed their collage.
  • They found a background and turned it black and white.
  • They put their collaged figure on a background and we printed it to display alongside their collage.

The entire gallery of work can be found here on Artsonia.

A little about Bisa Butler:

Born in 1975, Ms. Butler is an American fiber artist known for her quilted portraits and designs celebrating black life. Butler, a formally trained African American artist of Ghanaian heritage, combines fabrics of different textures, colors and patterns to recreate images from historical photographs, transforming them into portraits, narrating stories and weaving together a history of African American culture and art. Her works, many of which utilize fabrics from around the world and her family, and many from Ghana, present multifaceted stories of resilience. Her work broaches the dividing line between painting on canvas and creating with fiber. Her works transform family memories and cultural practices into art works of social statement.

There are many current articles, videos, and social media spotlights about her! Here are a few to get you started:

About the Time Magazine covers

Art and Object write up

From Juxtapoz

Brooklyn Made video (2016)

Signature style video

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