Southfield Public Arts Commission presents “Conversations in Fiber” art exhibition and public reception February 15
Mayor Kenson Siver and the Southfield Public Arts Commission will host “Conversations in Fiber” opening reception and public art exhibition on Thursday, February 15 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. featuring nine fiber artists at the Southfield City Hall Main Lobby, 26000 Evergreen Road.
The exhibition of work will be on display from February 6 until April 30 featuring the works of April Anue, Boisali Biswas, Dorothy Jett-Carter, Cassandra Harris, Patricia L. Millender, Dolores Slowinski, Mandisa Smith, Toya Thomas, and Najma Wilson. The exhibit and opening reception are free and open to the public.
The Southfield Public Arts Commission curates new exhibits of local artists' work quarterly. “Mayor Ken Siver and the Southfield Public Arts Commission are committed to showcasing art and supporting local artists to promote diversity and inclusion in the community,” commented Southfield Public Arts Commission Chairperson Delores Flagg. “Together, we are a stronger community that fosters a sense of belonging for businesses, residents and visitors.”
Delores S. Slowinski
Dolores S. Slowinski, a long-time resident of Detroit, has a BFA in weaving and ceramics from Wayne State University. Her work experience includes art writing for national, regional, local print and electronic magazines as well as serving as arts administrator and resource person at the state and local level for over 40 years. Slowinski returned to studio practice in 1999 and began showing her work in local, state, and regional galleries in 2005. Slowinski ‘s artwork explores the use of thread as line in the form of hand-stitched drawings on paper as well as in creating installations that incorporate small stitched, two-sided drawings.
Her work has been included in three international exhibitions: the 23rd International Open, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2020; Shifting Landscapes, Surface Design Association, juried, members exhibition at form & concept gallery in Santa Fe, NM, 2017; and World of Threads Festival 2016 in Oakville/Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Hers is among the first 100 World of Threads Festival Artist Interviews posted online at worldofthreadsfestival.com.
Slowinski’s work has also been included in local and international publications including: Textiel Plus,TxP, a Dutch zine focusing on contemporary textile art, 2020; Microsoft Chicago blog post, 2017; Post-Industrial Complex, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI, 2012; Textiles: The Art of Mankind by Mary Schoeser, Thames & Hudson, London, 2012.
April Anue Shipp
April Anue Shipp is an interdisciplinary artist known for her mesmerizing and thought-provoking works that explore the intersection of art, history, current events and human emotions. With a unique blend of traditional techniques and innovative approaches, Shipp creates works that challenge the boundaries of perception.
Shipp was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Shipp’s passion for art emerged at an early age. Fascinated by the interplay of color and textures, she spent countless hours experimenting with various mediums, from mud/clay, paint, paper and fabrics. This multidisciplinary background laid the foundation for her diverse artistic practice, which encompasses quilt making, doll making, and sculpting.
Inspired by the ever-evolving world around her, Shipp delves into the complexities of the human condition and the ways in which we relate to our surroundings. Her artworks serve as visual narratives, inviting views to contemplate themes of identity, connection. Through her pieces, she seeks to evoke introspection and spark conversations about the rapidly changing society.
Over the years, Shipp’s art has been showcased in numerous exhibitions and galleries both nationally and internationally.
Boisali Biswas is a studio artist working in mixed media fibers, born and brought up in India. Her formative years during BFA were spent at Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. The essence of that profound experience throughout her educational journey has stayed with her and continues to influence her work. Biswas completed her MFA at Bowling Green State University. Living in this country for over 3 decades and adapting to Western styles and inspirations in concert with her background has made her Art into a cauldron of multicultural assemblages that are unique and a feast for the eyes.
Biswas’ work has been shown extensively across the nation and internationally in reputed galleries including most recently, the World of Threads festival at Toronto. She has an impressive lineup of several invitational exhibits during the next couple of years including a solo coming up at Buckham Gallery, Flint in April, ’24, group shows at Janice Charach Gallery in ’25 and Muskegon Museum of Art in ’26.
As an immigrant artist, my work is constantly informed by my existence between the two cultures. Most often I find myself drawn to my roots, and I strive to explore and express the complexity of cultural identity and belonging in my work.
My art is like an odyssey for me through the passage of time-honored techniques, traditions and influences. I contemplate on how cultures, countries are bound together by the warp and weft of civilization, how we are wrapped in cloth ever since our inception! My journey of working with fibers continues to weave those cultures together in a multifaceted way.
Najma Ma’at Wilson
Najma Ma’at Wilson grew up in a house filled with art. Her mother was a quilter that studied art at Wayne State University and an art educator at Detroit Public Schools. There was always something being handmade around the house and Wilson quickly developed a quench for knowledge in making things. Wilson fine-tuned her interest in textiles during the 70s while working as a gallery assistant to Dr. Cledie Taylor of Arts Extended Gallery and Modell Stoval who had adjoining spaces on Broadway in Detroit. Her love for West African textiles compelled her to further study and she began pursuing a degree in Fiber Design from the Center for Creative Studies in the early eighties. Upon graduation, she opened her own textile business called Hand and Spirit where her work was purchased by Compuware of New Jersey, Crittenton Hospital, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Henry Ford Hospital, and many others.
Later in life, Wilson decided to give back to the community and received a master’s degree in education from Boston College in Cambridge Massachusetts. She taught for 20 years from Cass Tech in Detroit, Michigan to Cotonou Benin, West Africa. Wilson bacame an Adjunct Professor at Wayne State University teaching Fiber Methods to art students in the Art Education Department. After retiring, she and a lifelong friend co owned Detroit Fiber Works selling and showing works of local Detroit artists until 2020. She now is returning to creating her own work from her home studio.
Patricia L Millender
Patricia L. Millender has worked as a special education teacher for hearing impaired students and as an interior designer. She did store design and both commercial and residential buildings. For over 20 years she took classes at the historic Pewabic Pottery. She was a hand builder making vases, wall hangings, nativity scenes and angels with fabric wings and yarn hair. Today, she is considered mainly a fiber and ceramic artist.
After retirement Millender attended a quilt show sponsored by The Great Lakes African American Quilters Network. Struck by the beauty and complexity of the quilts she joined the group the next month. She would go on to serve as as vice president for 2 years and served as co-chair for one of their quilt shows. Millender has made over 60 quilts and wall hangings over the past 12 years.
Millender led a team of quilters who made a special quilt for Norman Rockwell exhibit" The four Freedoms " at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. The finished quilt was displayed at the Detroit Historical museum. She also made four quilts for a Knight Foundation Project "Aired Out Quilts" in conjunction with Live Coal Gallery featuring residents in different Detroit neighborhoods. Three of her quilts are featured in the book "Everlasting Threads: honoring heritage and history.” Millender’s quilts have been displayed in the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, The Michigan State Fair, The Virgil Carr Center, The University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, The Grosse Point War Memorial, The Kayrod Gallery in the Hannan Center, and Harper Galleries.
Toya R. Booker Thomas
Toya R. Booker Thomas is a Fiber Artist with a passion for culturally-enriched memory and heirloom quilts. Her quilts often tell stories, spark memories of the African-American experience or bring certain feelings to light. Bringing a vision alive and creating a unified tapestry from seemingly unrelated pieces of fabric bring a sense of fulfillment to Thomas, what she refers to as her “Quiltitude.”
Although her mother taught her how to sew when she was a child, Thomas didn’t start quilting until 2009. By 2015, she retired from her fulltime career as a Tax Manager and redirected her creative energies to quilting. To date, she has completed over 100 pieces. She has also assembled and contributed to collaborative works for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., the city of Novi, Michigan, and the Detroit Historical Museum.
Thomas’ fiber art has adorned the Philadelphia City Hall, and City Gallery in Charleston, SC. Her coats have hit the runways in Santa Clara, California and Novi, Michigan. She has created pieces that have been exhibited in Georgia, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and internationally in France.
Thomas also enjoys sharing her crafts with others and teaches various quilting techniques. Meticulous at her craft, she selects each fabric she uses with thought and care to ensure harmony with the other incorporated pieces. Like a choreographed dance, she makes sure every piece knows and shines in its role in the finished production.
Mandisa Smith employs the ancient and distinctive technique of wet felting to meticulously craft exquisite wearable art, compelling sculptural pieces, evocative abstract works, and unique home accessories. This labor-intensive method results in one-of-a-kind artworks that defy replication. Smith frequently utilizes her own eco-printed silk fabric in her felted masterpieces, and often pushes the boundaries of her practice by incorporating various found materials.
Her artwork has graced prestigious venues both locally and nationally, including The Scarab Club, Detroit Artists Market, Detroit Institute of Arts, Healdsburg Center for the Arts (California), Fearless Artist Pop-Up (New York), among others. Nurturing a passion for the arts since childhood, Smith credits her father, Joe W. Gardner, for sparking her imagination with his vast interest in all things artistic and intellectual. She has explored diverse mediums such as painting on silk, jewelry design, metalsmithing, and more. Mandisa has refined her felting skills through workshops led by master fiber artists worldwide.
As a former co-owner of Detroit Fiber Works, Smith takes pride in uplifting the work of fellow Detroit artists. Currently, she is diligently working to open her new studio, dye garden and community art space, AKOMA, at Oakland Avenue Urban Farm.
Cassandra R. Harris
Cassandra R. Harris was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and has been a resident of Southfield for 37 years. She has enjoyed participating in many of the programs and activities offered by Southfield. Needles, thread, and fabric have been near her all of her life. Her mother sewed, and she began teaching Harris to sew when she was six years old. However, it wasn’t until 1991 that she turned to quilting as a sewing outlet. The opportunity to play with fabrics in new ways drew her into the quilting world. She loves playing with the colors and textures of fabric; finding new ways to express herself through the fibers.
Harris is a member of the Great Lakes African American Quilters’ Network (GLAAQN.com).
Dorothy Jett-Carter is a native Detroiter who has been creating textile and fiber art for over 45 years. Her designs have been exhibited and sold in diverse locations including the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., the Wright Museum, Detroit, the renowned River Gallery, Chattanooga, TN and numerous fine art galleries.
Three years ago, Jett-Carter changed the focus of her artistic design from wearable art to framed art. Jett-Carter added painting and embroidery to her popular fabric appliqué and beading techniques and created a new award-winning art form. Jett-Carter says, “framing my work has allowed me to tell stories and the stories always speak of the African diaspora. I don’t make an effort to speak of Africa and African American life. That just comes from my soul.”
In 2021, Jett-Carter became an author. Her first book, “Kente Cloth and Apricot Brandy, A love Story”, published by Ochina Press, has received rave reviews. It was endorsed by several notables including Dr. Mathew L. Ouellette, Executive Director, Center for Teaching Innovation, Cornell University.