Cultivating Genius, One Stitch at a Time: Bisa Butler and Gholdy Muhammad
In this episode, we celebrate Women’s History Month and the power of women to transform our world, one stitch at a time. Host Suzanne McCabe talks with Scholastic Kid Reporter Camille Fallen, 13, about a recent interview she conducted with acclaimed textile artist Bisa Butler and Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, an educator and the author of the bestselling Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy.
Bisa’s textile portraits, which are inspired by black and white photographs that she collects, tell the story of both ordinary and notable Black Americans. She uses the medium of quilting to interrogate the historic marginalization of her subjects, while conveying the subjects’ complex individuality.
“My work is a recording of what life is like for me as a Black woman and the way I see things,” Bisa says. “By creating these portraits, I’m giving other people a window into how Black people see themselves. It’s an insider’s view of a community that is not always paid attention to, a community that has been mischaracterized deliberately, lied about, or ignored.”
Bisa, who had a solo show in 2020-’21 at the Art Institute of Chicago, will be honored this spring at the 60th Anniversary Benefit Gala of the American Folk Art Museum.
Bisa and Gholdy both approach their work as educators. Bisa is a former high school teacher, and Gholdy, an associate professor of language and literacy at Georgia State University, has served as a school district curriculum director and a middle school teacher. Camille, who lives in Virginia, is a member of the award-winning Scholastic Kids Press team.