Explorations in African American Quilting, Quilt History, Fabrics and other Fanciful Topics.
Kyra I love your blog and all of the wonderful information you dispense. Vlisco raises all the hairs on my neck. We've become familiar with the fabric designs and think of them as African, but they have no basis in traditionally produced African fabric. Here's quote from Yinka Shonibare regarding Dutch waxprints. Yinka Shonibare, MBE (British, b. 1962)"In 1990 I developed another way of questioning ideas about cultural authenticity. I started to use "African" fabric purchased from Brixton Market in my work. Batik, which is commonly known as "African" fabric, has its origins in Indonesia and is industrially produced in Holland and Manchester for export to Africa where it is made into traditional dress. The adoption of the fabric, particularly in West Africa, has led to the development of local industries which also manufacture fabrics. … In my own practice, I have used the fabrics as a metaphor for challenging various notions of authenticity both in art and identity."—Yinka Shonibare (London, 1996)For me the Vlisco fabric represents the worst of the triangular trade. The culture and traditions of one colonized country imported to another colonized country for the benefit of the colonizer. There are many fabric designers of color producing fabric today. We need your support to survive. Thanks,Yasmin Sabur
Interesting read from Ms. Shonibare. I appreciate the history lesson.Mom
Kyra, Vlisco is not an African fabrics company, but a Dutch-owned, Dutch-made textiles company that mimics African patterns and aesthetics for profit. They've helped literally wipe out the indigenous African textile artisans, from whom this craft stems.I don't think they should ever get our money or our publicity. Let's give that to Black/African artisans!EDIT: I just realized that SIster Yasmin above mentioned the same in her comment. I'm relieved to see more of us are learning that just because something "looks African" or wears the label "African" it doesn't mean we should support it. Most of the textiles sold from Africa today are made either by Dutch colonial countries/companies, or by the Chinese. Most people don't support or pay mind to the actual African fabric or African artisans anymore, which is a tragedy.Also, Batik, contrary to Shonibare's statement in Yasmin's comment, was around in Africa long before Indonesia. We used wax and creative tying to make our batiks.In fact, if any of you are also Gulla/Gechi, then you'll definitely know this, as indigo crops during enslavement were often used even by us for our Batiking and Tie Dying. The art of "Batik" was already present in Africa for thousands of years. Shonibare's statement is indicative of the commonly held eurocentric approach of all things African and creative must've come from elsewhere. It's absolutely false.
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