Art-lovers, rejoice! Katonah Museum of Art reopens on July 26th with Bisa Butler: Portraits, the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work.


Think these beautiful works of art are vibrant paintings? Think again. Butler’s medium is fabric, and stories are found in each patch, thread, and square of her quilts.

Bisa Butler: Portraits features 26 of Butler’s vivid and larger-than-life fabric portraits that capture African American identity and culture. Originally intended to open on March 15, the Museum was forced to make the decision to close on the day before the opening. Thankfully, the KMA was able to extend the exhibition from July 26 to October 4, 2020. Following the KMA, the exhibit will travel to The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC).

As Butler said, “This project is a quilted fabric album of everyday people of African descent inspired by vintage photographs. My goal is to not only provide a simple snapshot of a person but also to communicate an entire story in one piece of artwork. I create portraits of people that include many clues of their inner thoughts, their heritage, their actual emotions, and even their future.”

Butler, a formally trained African American artist of Ghanaian heritage, straddles the line between creating with paint on canvas and creating with fiber by fashioning magnificent quilts and elevating a medium hitherto designated as craft into one that is high art. She forges an individual and expressive signature style that draws upon her own cultural background and experiences, creating a narrative and identity that inform her quilts. What results are stunning works that transform family memories and cultural practices into works of social statement.


Upon reopening, the Museum will operate at 25 percent of its total capacity while enacting new safety measures, including advance online ticket purchases, social distancing throughout galleries and outdoor areas, and enhanced sanitizing and cleaning protocols. To help ensure public safety and to prevent crowds, timed ticket purchases will be required. All visitors must pre-purchase Museum admission tickets online in advance. Details regarding the reopening and the purchase of online tickets will be made available on the Museum’s website.KMA Executive Director Michael Gitlitz said, “We are looking forward to reopening, and it will be particularly meaningful to welcome the public to experience the works of artist Bisa Butler in a physical setting.”


Guests can find a full list of available Museum experiences and learn more about what to expect during a visit on the Museum’s website.

Bisa Butler: Portraits is made possible in part through the generous support of The Coby Foundation, Ltd.

Photos: Katonah Museum of Art