• Ellen Harris

#4 Fiber Art Threads of Gratitude: Kianga Art

Fiber Art Threads of Gratitude express satisfying and joyful reminders of our connection to the Earth through the design of colorful weaving, quilting and other cultural artistic patterns that connect to our creative spirits. In her own words, Kianga Jinaki describes what inspires her creative spirit. Also, visit her at www.kiangaart.com.


I am inspired by my cultural connection to Africa. My purpose as an artist is to use African textiles both traditional and contemporary to share the stories and cultural experiences of my ancestors and my life as a child of the diaspora. My work is a blending of my cultural experiences having been born in the U.S. and my exposure to African cultural traditions thru personal study and travel.

Along with traditional African textiles and beads, I also create my own textiles by painting, stamping, tie-dying or sun printing. Ninety percent of the sewing, embellishing, and manipulating of the textiles incorporated in my work is sewn by hand and not by machine. In my art, I may address the issue of violence against Black Men and Women in this country as well as the story of Mami Wata an African Goddess that appears in Dogon cosmology as the mother of creation. Because so much of my process is self-taught my work has a ‘folk art’ feel to it. I research the concepts that I wish to include to make sure I am representing them accurately; especially, if I’m including some ancestral component or cultural reference to a specific art piece.

I love adding surface design, manipulation, embellishments and building up portions of a work to create dimension. Writing prayers and affirmations on cloth or hand-made paper and then binding them to my art with thread or wire adds an element of spirit. My art work draws on the folklore, music, poetry, history, spirituality and essence of African people. My work is Kianga, which means light. I am shining light on the beauty of this culture that I love so much. I, also, am Jinaki, which means to be proud of one’s self; a pride which honors my ancestors through the ancient story telling inherent in textiles.

I am sharing the utterings of my soul.

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