Friends We Gained, 2020, 65 x 47 inches, Mixed Media: Dyed Canvas and Assorted Fabric and Textiles on canvas
As a Ghanaian, Kwarteng believes that fabrics, like languages, are important signifiers and carriers of culture, communicating unspoken messages to those who understand their embedded “language”. He is interested in the roles that fabric plays in the lives of those who use them. In Ghana, the colors and fabric of clothing worn by individuals convey different milestones or emotional states- mourning, tragedy, childbirth, marriage, or happiness- and this is true for other cultures as well. By Utilizing a mix of fabrics from all over the world, Kwarteng encodes his work with multicultural symbols that are easily recognized by those within the specific cultures but also appreciated by the others are creative design elements in their own right.
Kwesi O. Kwarteng is a contemporary fabric artist based in Newark, NJ. He dyes canvases using multiple dying techniques and combines them with textiles from different cultures to create abstract pieces. Starting off as a painter, Kwesi approaches his work like he would his paintings. He considers the fabrics as the paint he uses in making these works and the sewing (by hand and/or machine) as the brush that brings them together. By combining these assorted cultural fabrics with the dyed canvases, Kwesi attempts to represent his view of the world as an immigrant living in the United States. Over the last decade immigration has become a major part of the socio-political discourse of many developed countries. Be it the emigration of Mexicans to America, the Syrians or North Africans heading towards Europe, or the emigration from east to the west in search of high paying jobs in the tech world. There is anxiety on both sides. Anti-immigration and xenophobia is very prevalent today, he seeks to address this through his work. The goal? To champion multiculturalism. Kwesi has a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY; he’s had two solo shows and taken part in several group exhibitions. His works are in private collections in the US, Germany, and Ghana. He is a recent recipient of the creative catalyst grant award.