The City of North Charleston’s Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce that a joint exhibition of art quilts by local artist Torreah “Cookie” Washington and Ghanaian artist Eunice Maku Aiyku-Nartey will be on display at Park Circle Gallery from September 1-30, 2021. A free reception will be held at the gallery on Friday, September 10, from 5:00-7:00pm. Cookie and Eunice will have a Zoom conversation about their works and artistic processes at 6pm. The public is invited to attend.
Sisters Across the Sea is an exhibition of fiber art celebrating the Motherline through dialogue between African American artist Torreah “Cookie” Washington and Ghanaian artist Eunice Maku Ayiku-Nartey. For the past 15 years Cookie has been curating the Annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition presented at North Charleston City Hall as a component of the North Charleston Arts Fest. This Park Circle Gallery exhibition was originally planned as a solo show of her work, but later became a collaborative effort when she extended an invitation to Eunice to debut her artworks in North Charleston. Introduced by a mutual friend, both artists create work that celebrates common themes of African history and heritage, celebrating community, and stories from their own lives.
Cookie and Eunice are creative kin sisters. Though they live on different continents, their artistic journeys are similar. Both women have been sewing since early childhood and are daughters of dress makers who encouraged them to obtain economic autonomy and joy through pursuit of their craft. Cookie launched her bridal design and soft accessories business, Phenomenal Women Designs, in 1991. Eunice established Eunimak Fashion in 1993. Each woman embeds their intricate textile works with spiritual, cultural, and historical transmissions.
Torreah “Cookie” Washington is an award-winning master art quilter and curator. A fourth-generation textile artist, she has been creating with textiles for more than a quarter of a century. Cookie was born in Rabat, Morocco, but has lived in the South Carolina Lowcountry for 30 years and has played an integral role in the local arts community. “I have a passionate urge to create art that is ‘way-showing,’” says Washington. “I seek to make art that challenges people, art that makes your spirit soar, makes you think and feel, or that agitates and annoys; art that challenges you to learn more about the subject and to find your own feelings about it.” Cookie’s wish is to keep the tradition of quilting brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans alive and, through her work, validate their culture by weaving stories of the African or African American experience into her quilts, just as her foremothers did almost four hundred years ago. Although she is working in a medium that is centuries old, she believes she and other art quilters are shifting the historical to accommodate their new application. “Art quilting, though an emerging fine art form, is a fairly small part of the art world. I am thrilled to be part of the sisterhood that is bringing this craft/art to the Lowcountry. I want the viewer to come away changed after having experienced my work. I am not at all interested in creating art that matches your furniture. I find that art quilting emits a spirit, a presence, an energy, a vitality unlike that of any other medium,” Cookie says. Learn more about Cookie and her work at cookiesewsquilts.com.
Eunice Maku Ayiku-Nartey, a Ghanaian dress designer and textile artist, has been passionate about sewing since childhood. Although she studied textile design and production at various institutions in the United Kingdom, her heart remained in Africa. After taking several entrepreneurship courses in Ghana, Eunice launched Eunimak Fashion at Adabraka, which has developed into an international brand through trade fairs and now makes custom made clothes for distinguished ladies and the American, Zimbabwean, and Canadian embassies. Eunice is also a member of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), which specializes in European and Afrocentric clothing, accessories, and soft furnishing in home décor. A commitment to sustainability is at the forefront of the fashion and fine art that Eunice creates. The natural world and Ghanaian culture are generative sources of inspiration for her textile art, which is often created using repurposed scrap fabrics. The vibrant colors in woven kente cloth from the Ashanti and Volta regions of Ghana, as well as the rhythmic traditional dances like Adowa and Agbadza, are recent muses appearing in her textile creations. In describing her artistic journey, Eunice shares “my art was created along my journey of life and my sincerest gratitude goes to my late mom and dad.” View Eunice’s work on Instagram at @eunimak_fashion.
Park Circle Gallery is located at 4820 Jenkins Avenue in North Charleston, in what was formerly known as the Olde Village Community Building. Admission is free and free street parking is available on Jenkins Avenue in front of the gallery, as well as on the adjacent streets and in parking lots close by. The gallery is open 10:00am-6:00pm Wednesday-Friday, and Noon-4:00pm on Saturday. Staff and all visitors must wear a face covering while they are in the gallery. Hand sanitizer will be provided upon entry. For more information about PCG, call 843-637-3565 or email [email protected]. For information on other Cultural Arts programs and artist opportunities, visit the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website.