Bisa Butler, Dahomey Amazon, 2019, cotton, silk, wool and velvet, quilted and appliquéd. Private collection Photo by John Butler.

Newport Art Museum will present Pride and Presence: a virtual Artist Talk with quilt artist and storyteller Bisa Butler on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 6:30 pm. The talk is $15 general admission, free for students to age 18, and will be delivered virtually via Zoom. Registration is required to receive the Zoom link, and is available at

A quilt is a potent object. Made by hand, even the most minimal quilt design is a material record of the life, inspirations, tastes, history, and beliefs of the maker and recipient. 

Bisa Butler’s glorious contemporary quilts utilize the medium to lift up the stories of African American individuals both known and unknown. The vibrant colors and patterns of African fabrics from her ancestral Ghana, batiks from Nigeria, and prints from South Africa create a visual cacophony, a blissed-out intensity, brilliant beauty and feeling of celebration. Her textile portraits immortalize cultural figures and anonymous individuals alike. Dignified and regal, their unapologetic maximalism finally makes looking away, ignoring, or forgetting them, an impossibility.

The Newport Art Museum is pleased to partner with the Sankofa Community Connection of Newport, whose mission includes working towards school curriculums that recognize and celebrate the cultural heritage of African Americans of colonial Newport, to welcome acclaimed artist Bisa Butler for a virtual artist talk followed by Q&A.
About Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler, Dahomey Amazon, 2019, cotton, silk, wool and velvet, quilted and appliquéd. Private collection Photo by John Butler.

Bisa Butler (b. 1974) is an African American quilt artist who has been making quilts since the mid- 1990s. A fine arts graduate of Howard University, Butler left an art teaching position to focus on her artwork. At 47 years old, Butler’s work has touched audiences worldwide. Her quilt portraits were exhibited in late 2020 at the Katonah Museum in New York, and currently 20 of her quilts are on view in a solo show, Bisa Butler: Portraits, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been recognized by the Smithsonian Magazine, artnet news, Forbes, Essence magazine, The Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, The New York Times, Artforum International, among many others. She lives and works in New York.

About Sankofa Community Connection

Sankofa Community Connection strives to disrupt inequalities and injustice within the Newport community and schools. Through their work they endeavor to bring awareness, encouragement and education to empower Newport community members that are not often heard. They seek to increase pride of place within the African American Community of Newport County through a community-led initiatives that focus on increasing social cohesion, dialogue around the impact of and solutions to institutional racism and oppression, and expanding the historical content taught in schools to reveal, honor and celebrate the cultural heritage of African Americans of early Newport. Since its inception, Sankofa Community Connection has inspired change for the better in the community and is often sought out for its expertise in culturally relevant programming, educational materials and consultant services by community members, schools and various organizations.

About the Newport Art Museum

The Newport Art Museum was founded in 1912 on the belief that art is a civilizing influence and an essential component to creating vibrant communities. Charter Members included Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Pulitzer-Prize winning author Maud Howe Elliott, Helena and Louisa Sturtevant, and Edith Wetmore. The first exhibition featured art works from local artists, as well as those with international reputations, including George Bellows, Mary Cassatt, and Childe Hassam.

By 1915, the organization’s founders had purchased a suitable building for their art classes and exhibitions—the John N.A. Griswold House on Newport’s famed Bellevue Avenue. This exceptional example of “stick-style” architecture was Richard Morris Hunt’s first commission in Newport and was completed in 1864.

In 1920, a second gallery building designed by the New York architectural firm, Delano and Aldrich and dedicated to the memory of artist Howard Gardiner Cushing, opened just to the south of the Griswold House. The Sarah Rives lobby and Morris Gallery were added in 1990 providing the Museum additional gallery space as well as a climate-controlled collection storage area.

In 2005, the Art Museum embarked on a decade-long renovation of the historically significant Richard Morris Hunt building. Today, the Art Museum’s beautiful 3-acre campus includes the Griswold house, the Cushing Building, and the Museum School housed in the Coleman Center for Creative Studies. Visitors from around the world enjoy the Art Museum, its public programs and special events each year.

The permanent collection includes over 2,700 fine art objects with a focus on American artists from the 18th century to the present. Rotating exhibitions are installed annually and over the years have included artists as diverse as Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, William Trost Richards, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Andy Warhol. Recent temporary exhibitions have featured artworks by Diane Arbus, George Condo, Lalla Essaydi, Shara Hughes, William Kentridge, Sally Mann, Rania Matar, and Tony Oursler, to mention a few.

Highlights of our historical collection include paintings by Gilbert Stuart and John Smibert, George Inness, Fitz Henry Lane, Lilla Cabot Perry and twenty-five works by William Trost Richards. In addition, the Museum owns works by Winslow Homer and George Bellows, iconic sculptures by William Morris Hunt and Paul Manship, and a number of works by John La Farge. The Museum also owns photographs by Aaron Siskind and wallpaper by Andy Warhol, as well as prints by Philip Guston, Corita Kent, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, Philip Pearlstein, and Ad Reinhardt, as well as glass art by Dale Chihuly and Toots Zynsky.

The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm, Thursdays April – December until 7 pm, and Sunday from noon to 5 pm. The Museum is closed to the public on Mondays. Museum membership levels and benefits, art school classes and registration, exhibition schedules, public programming, and more can be found at Phone: (401) 848-8200.

Source: Newport Art Museum