Rosy Petri is a multidisciplinary artist that pieces together art, writing, and auditory narratives to bear witness to humans being. Passion for social justice, culture, and storytelling has allowed her to travel the country for several projects. She is currently focusing on fabric portraiture as the Artist in Residence at Milwaukee’s historic Pfister Hotel.
Using traditional techniques in unconventional ways, I am a self taught multimedia artist with a focus on textile portraiture. Each portrait is meant to capture and pay homage to the humanity of individuals in reverential essence. As a self-taught artist working with fabrics of the diaspora, it is important for me to acknowledge that these artist ancestors are the descendants of the survivors of the middle passage. As a daughter of diaspora who has been historically disconnected from those origins, I seek to explore my own ties to the African continent and diaspora.
The African wax print fabrics themselves are a result of colonialism: enslaved Africans were brought to Indonesia by the Dutch during occupation. Here, traditional batik-making became the foundation for mechanized reproductions created by the Dutch. Further evolution of this journey led to Africans creating fabrics inspired by the failed reproductions, coupled with block printing styles and patterns more reflexive of communities on the continent. To this day, the fabrics are a cultural symbol of various African regions as well as children of the diaspora worldwide.
Each image was created with reverential consideration of the historic, spiritual and cultural significance of the materials and process. For me, the fabrics are symbolic of my own connection with the ancestors, known and unknown. Using wax prints (as well as vintage and repurposed materials) in an improvisational manner, I apply them to my fabric portraits through a traditional quilting technique called raw edge applique. This technique allows me to utilize even the smallest scraps in my work, which I save from production of my other projects. Inspired by the stained glass windows and icons of churches and cathedrals, I want to celebrate the sacredness of life through iconographic images of culture created in the folkways of my community.
About Supreme Tones and The People’s Church
Supreme Tones references the importance of music in particular as a way for black americans to express the depths of a vast experience as creators and influencers of culture. Through blues, soul, jazz, gospel, funk, and “black classical music” among others, black folks have heavily contributed to american popular music as a whole.
Supreme Tones celebrates the contributions of legendary Black american performing artists, and is part of a larger series called The People’s Church, featuring iconic depictions of everyday saints