Above: The Gods are Within. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Artist’s statement: Creating quenches my thirst for life. I make art for fun, for intellectual & spiritual exploration, for discipline & emotional expression. For me, making art is both meditation and prayer that affirms my self-esteem and proves that I exist. I am designed for one purpose: to use art as a tool to heighten consciousness, proliferating a critical pursuit of freedom, in the spirit of love.
I spoke with Basil Kincaid at the end of his Fountainhead Residency, Miami, Florida. During the length of his time in Miami he, like many residents, vacated the city during the hurricane. Kincaid’s art practice is one that primarily focuses on quilt making, performance, photography.
“I play with a diverse set of art forms to express my love for humanity and to confront oppression. I draw, paint, collage and take photographs to process ideas that lead to the development of my larger bodies of work. I am particularly interested in working with found objects: the discarded & the abandoned. I enjoy finding and amplifying beauty in things and places that are often overlooked. I also love oil paint; it is often my vehicle for finished works,” Kincaid explains while finishing up attaching a quilt to a frame.
Above: Basil Kinkaid at work, photo credit: Onajide Shabaka.
Influenced by the quilter, Edna Patterson Petty, from East Saint Louis, IL. Basil Kincaid expresses his gratitude to a woman he holds in high esteem. “She reached out to me when she found out this young guy was quilting. She had me over for a visit and showed me all of her quilts and taught me some techniques,” Basil Kincaid revealed. He continues, “She is this amazing quilter and was generous enough to get me all this material. It felt really good to get this blessing from somebody that has been in practice for so long. She’s this super talented, interdisciplinary visual artist, but primarily a quilter. A master quilter!”
Above:Untitled, Framed Textile Quilt, 30 x 38 in. Photo credit: Onajide Shabaka
“Regarding my practice, I make the majority of them, but I try to make sure that my practice engages other people in the city (St. Louis, MO). But now, I work beyond the city into the world,” Kincaid expands. “And now I get about 80% of my material through social media, or see my work and donate materials. I think that’s important too because it is a form of storytelling with materials coming from so many people from disparate parts of the city. People that may never meet only have this way to come together in this kind of unification, even though it’s small it’s a metaphor for something larger,” Kincaid hopes. He also notes there are people that assist him in sewing and organizing materials because they enjoy the community it affords, while it also ties back into the community origins of quilt making.
“My family is originally from rural farmers in Arkansas, and when I go visit the farm, it has memories of my grandmother from whom I picked up the quilt making. I am interested in finding out the different quilting traditions across the rural southern sharecropping communities. That’s where my influences are from,” Kincaid continues.
Above: Untitled, Framed Textile Quilts, 30 x 30 in. Photo credit: Onajide Shabaka
He uses the quilts in ways that are folded and layered to break up the visual surface beyond the patterns of the textiles. Some are attached to frames; some are hung directly on the wall. Kincaid also uses the quilts as performative objects. They have expansive contexts, and that is part of the excitement Basil Kincaid finds in his practice.
Above: Untitled, Unframed Textile Quilt, 120 x 120 in. (detail). Photo credit: Onajide Shabaka