In episode 273, Kestrel welcomes Kesiena Onosigho, a textile and mixed-media artist, to the show. Through the study of materials and patterns, Kesiena intuitively explores textiles and a range of media to create atmospheric abstractions focused on intersectionality, as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, engaging in themes of social & environmental justice. “My work really is about reclaiming and retelling these narratives around Black cultural contributions to textiles and crafts and sustainability. And really dedicating my work to uplifting and centering Black women in particular, but Black people in general, their work and their history across the African diaspora.” -Kesiena
This week’s guest is a natural dyer, a knitter, a botanical ink-maker and beyond. An exceptional textile and mixed media artist, Kesiena’s work is grounded in historical context and lived experiences, and focused on themes around social and environmental justice.
Growing up within a very matriarchal family, surrounded by a community of Black women, she has collected experiences and knowledge, and navigated her way to discovering that art is a tool for liberation – in particular slow art.
As she says, “for Black people today, finding that space is an act of rebellion.”
Through her work, she creates what she calls “atmospheric abstractions” – I love this so much. And it’s beyond accurate because so often with art, we end up being able to feel it before we actually understand it. And when it comes to her process, sustainability is woven into each step along the way – as she says: sustainability isn’t passive, it’s something you live, and something you are.
Quotes & links from the conversation:
Gist Yarn's upcoming textile residency (starting in July) that Kesiena was selected to be a part of this year
Garbage Goddess — a great resource for natural dyers that Kesiena recommended, after the recording. They sometimes offer free flowers for natural dyers in NYC, and Kesiena sometimes freelances with them.
Teju Adisa-Farrar’s Black Material Geographies Podcast (Kesiena mentions)
Sustainable Brooklyn (organization to support that Kesiena mentions)
The Root Series with Dominique Drakeford
Kesiena encourages folks to check out and support the work of Lisa Betty (who was featured on episode 1 of The Root series)
Conscious Chatter episode 228 with Catherine McKinley >
Kesiena’s website >
Follow Kesiena on Instagram >