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Clara Nartey
Featured Artist Working with Textiles

Human vision is not an exact reproduction of what we actually see. What we do see is, to a large extent, influenced by our experiences and the knowledge we have. My work creates experiences through which we can see ourselves. It feeds the knowledge bank from which we draw to make sense of the world we see around us, alternative narratives we may or may not typically be exposed to.

I create portraits using the human face as a medium for shifting perceptions. I like to explore themes of joy and beauty, identity and belonging, and resilience. I center my portraits around intricate Black hairstyles because Black hair, to me, epitomizes resilience - the human ability to bounce back from adversity over and over again. For a long time, Black people have had a complicated relationship with our hair due to being subjected to Eurocentric standards of beauty. The ability to wear Black hair is an exercise in resilience, a human trait to be admired by whoever possesses it.

My work combines digital painting, textile design, and free-motion machine embroidery/quilting. My practice is rooted in my African heritage. So, using African motifs, I digitally design my own fabrics for the clothing my figures wear. Each fabric tells a unique story. Together, I’m stitching a complex narrative that goes beyond simple shapes, colors, and patterns; narratives that feed into knowledge banks that drive perception and vision.

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