Featured Artist Linda Keene

Fiber artist Linda Keene creates fabric collages that celebrate African-American tradition and culture. Enjoy more of her work by visiting her website.

 

fabric collage of three female African-American choir members singing by Linda Keene

“Joyful Noise” fabric collage, 13” x 17”

 

The late British author George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” This perfectly describes how I find myself an emerging artist at the age of sixty-eight. As the child of working class African-American parents growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I had very little exposure to visual art and few resources for exploring my early interest in the subject.

 

fabric collage of an African-American family outside their new home by Linda Keene

“Our New Home” fabric collage, 19” x 16”

 

There was nothing in my life experience to nurture the idea that I could become a serious artist or that I could earn a living while doing so. While pursuing a successful business career, I channeled my creative energies into hobbies like photography, sewing, interior design, cake decorating and scrapbooking.

 

fabric collage of an African-American debutante by Linda Keene

“Afro Deb” fabric collage, 13” x 16.5”

 

I also became an avid collector of African-American art. I have a strong appreciation for images that reflect positive aspects of our life and culture. With the luxury of time afforded by retirement, I began looking for a new outlet for my creativity. For the first time in my life, I decided to try my hand at making art of my own.

 

fabric collage of a preacher and his choir by Linda Keene

“Preaching to the Choir” fabric collage, 19.5” x 15”

 

My medium of choice is fabric because I love working with the wide variety of colors and textures that are available.

 

fabric collage of an African-American family by Linda Keene

“Legacy” fabric collage, 19” x 15.5”

 

Primarily using batiks, I create small art quilts featuring African-American imagery. I incorporate hand stitched backgrounds as a tribute to the generations of African-American women quiltmakers in my family who came before me.

 

fabric collage of an African-American couple on their first date by Linda Keene

“First Date” fabric collage, 12” x 15.5”

 

I begin each project with a simple sketch outlining the concept. Because drawing is not my strong suit, I refine my designs by making paper cutouts of the figures and key background elements.

 

fabric collage of an African-American couple getting married by Linda Keene

“United in Love” fabric collage, 19” x 15.5”

 

I then and move them around in different configurations until I am pleased with the effect. This process also allows me to understand the order in which each piece needs to be sewn to achieve the right perspective (e.g. background elements need to be sewn before those in the foreground).

 

fabric collage of an African-American Mardi Gras king and queen by Linda Keene

“Mardi Gras 2020” fabric collage, 20” x 16”

 

Once I complete the design, I try out a variety of fabrics to find a combination that I like and then cut everything out. The next steps are to quilt the top, and then finish the piece with a complementary label, border and backing.

 

fabric collage of an African-American couple in traditional clothing by Linda Keene

“Royal Blue” fabric collage, 15.25” x 17.5”

 

One of my main goals as an artist is to create work that people will want to have in their homes because of the positive feelings it generates. My characters are always smiling, and I would like to see those smiles reflected when people experience my work.

 

Artist Linda Keene with her fabric collage "First Couple"

Artist Linda Keene with her fabric collage “First Couple”

 

I have recently begun sharing my artwork and I am excited about the future possibilities. I also look forward to leveraging my artwork as a platform to raise funds in support of African-American higher education institutions.

 

Artist Linda Keene invites you to follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

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YES PLEASE!

Comments

  1. Dorothy Tate says

    I’ve seen this beautiful creative art work in person and the mastery is brilliant.

  2. Geraldine Kearse Brookins says

    I love Linda’s work and am glad she found her passion.

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