Commented tour daily at 9:30 A.M. in English
Aliyah Bonnette’s work is heavily influenced by her relationships with her late grandmothers, her ancestors, or her ‘Kindred’ as she calls them.
She discovered quilting three years ago at age twenty after learning that quilting may have been used in the underground railroad to aid slaves to freedom.
When she first told her grandfather about her sewing, she learned he had quilts and fabric from her late grandmother after she passed away. She was a quilter in the 1970s while living in Georgia and learned to sew by watching her own mother.
A few days later, she and her mother drove to Georgia and were surprised to find barrels full of her grandmother’s unfinished quilts as well as used and unused fabrics. She was stunned. It was a sign that her grandmothers were alive within her, guiding her all along.
Over time, she has taught herself a process of improvisational quilting to physically connect to her grandmother and the practices of her women ancestors. By incorporating the very fabrics and unfinished quilts she touched and sewed herself, her practice becomes a space to stitch together the stories and memories of black women across generations.
This work tells the powerful story that water can carry within the black community, using multiple figures, each quilt begins a narrative that can be further explored, Water, has both been a positive and negative symbol in Black history. On one hand, it is used as a way to free enslaved people, to connect them further with their ancestors, to wash away sins, or to nourish. On another hand, it was used to enslave, degrade, punish, or even kill. In the Waters We Rise is a culmination of all the ways water has affected the Black community. It is a way to process the Black experience using a common thread woven through each part of history.