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A Passion for African Fabrics: Cultured Expressions

Lisa Shepard Stewart – Cultured Expressions

Lisa Shepard Stewart – Cultured Expressions

Lisa Shepard Stewart is one of TAFA’s pioneer members, joining back in August of 2010. Since then, she has continued to develop her business, offering regular workshops, building community locally in New Jersey, launching her Fabrigasm magazine, and leading textile tours to Africa. Enjoy this glimpse into her colorful and cultural world centered on her passion for African fabrics.

Visit her website and make sure to sign up for her newsletter. She also has a shop on her site that sells supplies. And, if you long to take a cultural trip to Africa, connect with her to find out when the next trip might happen.


 

There’s something about African Fabrics…

Cultured Expressions African Wax Fabrics 

Cultured Expressions Fabrigasm 4-COVER

Fabrigasm Issue# 4

As the owner of Cultured Expressions, I’ve shared my lifelong fabric passion with others through my books, workshops, lectures, special events, merchandise, quilters’ retreats to Jamaica textile tours to Ghana and other SewJourns. And I recently published the fourth issue of FABRIGASM®, the Magazine for Lovers of African Textiles.  (Not a big surprise when you consider that Magazine Journalism was one of my favorite courses at FIT, where I earned degrees in Communications and Marketing.)

 

Cultured Expressions African fabric purseI learned to sew at age 12, so I’ve always had a “thing” for fabrics of all kinds, and after my first trip to Senegal in 1986, my passion for African fabrics in particular was ignited. I feel their Energy…I imagine the story behind the creators, their choice of colors, textures, symbols…and what inspired them to create. When placed in the hands of a fiber artist, the fabric takes on an added purpose, its story is intensified.

African fabrics have a timeless quality that withstands the usual trend cycles; batiks, bogolan, kente, kuba, and adinkra  are never out of style, whether I’m creating a wall hanging, garment, handbag or headwrap – it’s the juxtaposition of ancient fabric techniques applied to contemporary designs that excites my senses – the coarse weave of bogolan, the rich colors of Ghanaian batik, even the earthy scent of kuba affect me on a visceral level, and on a daily basis  Something so powerful can’t be confined to a single month, so while I can appreciate the intent behind designation of a “Black History Month”, history is being made all of the time, I’m Black all of the time, so to reserve celebration for the shortest month of the year never really made sense to me.

Through my work, I enjoy sharing the beauty of African fabrics & craft with like-minded people of all backgrounds.  Exposing people to positive images of African cultures, beyond the poverty, conflicts, and famine is extremely gratifying.  “Feel the fabric…Embrace the Culture” is more than my company’s tagline.  It’s become my raison d’être.

Cultured Expressions Kuba Cloths

Cultured Expressions – Kuba Cloths


Cultured Expressions - Adinkra strips and goats in Ntonso

Cultured Expressions – Adinkra strips and goats in Ntonso

 


 

 

 

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About

Profile photo of Rachel Biel
I've been working with the arts and craft world in many capacities since 1988. Handmade textiles have been my core focus since launching TAFA in 2010.

My hope is to contribute to the economic development potential the arts bring to the world, along with the intrinsic beauty shown in the work. May the world become a friendlier place for artists and nature!

Arrived in Kentucky after a childhood in Brazil, college in Minnesota and 20 years in Chicago. It's been a ride!

2 Comments

on A Passion for African Fabrics: Cultured Expressions.
  1. |

    Beautiful textiles. It is wonderful to learn the stories behind fabrics and the people who create them.

  2. |

    Beautiful works and I love the idea of being able to buy those supplies! I also enjoyed seeing the picture of the Adinkra strips.

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