Dawn Scott, Jamaica’s master batik artist. She also took clothing construction as an elective course in college and began making her own clothes.
“My first quilts were utilitarian gifts for young children made with juvenile prints. My first art quilt – ‘Joy’ – was made as a Christmas gift for my sister Carolyn Joy in 1991. She thought it was so magnificent that she gave it back to me. She thought I should keep my first quilt in my own collection. I later made another one for her. ‘Joy’ was included in an art book – Spirits of the Cloth, Contemporary African American Quilts by Carolyn Mazloomi.”
Quilting offers Cooper a vehicle for free expression. “As a transactional attorney practising primarily in affordable housing financing, quilting provides a welcome counterpoint. Quilting offers me creative expression; the licence to dream and the privilege to channel thought into form; the independence to be guided by passion; and the opportunity to meld many interests, such as travelling, collecting fabric, challenging historical suppositions, fostering creative communities and using art. The quilt form, in particular, is a mechanism to reconstruct and reimagine an African identity not distorted by the Middle Passage, enslavement and colonisation.”
Cooper said she is influenced by African textiles and the individual, cultural and spiritual messages they encode. “My work integrates African cloth, selfdyed fabrics, commercial fabrics, recycled scraps, beads, cowry shells and other embellishments to tell stories and explore cultural values and collective memory. I particularly like working with scraps and recycled clothing – reconnecting the torn, disparate pieces into a new form that is different from the original yet connected to it.”
Cooper has a deep connection with her creations. “They are imbued with my heart and soul. My quilts are like children I have sent out to interact with the world. I have a message to