As an African American artist I draw inspiration from the world around me and weave in pieces of my culture such as the colors, patterns, textures and symbolism. I connect with my African culture through my fiber art and communicate its strength in my finished work.
I create woven wearable art that is sold in stores and gallery shops, as well as quilts and felted pieces that are included in fine art shows. Not only do I produce smaller items for retail sales and boutiques but larger pieces such as quilts and wall hangings in which I can share my heritage and historical perspectives.
One of my more recent exhibits at the by Actors Theater in Lexington Kentucky includes a quilt called “Done Gone Home” that was inspired by a slave narrative entitled “Woman Rides Off On Dolly the Cow”. This quilt tells the story of a woman who beat her mistress’ son after he tried to beat her as punishment for falling asleep at her loom. The woman then had to escape by riding off on the family cow to escape punishment or even death. As an African American artist and current Women of Visions President (a visual arts organization of African American women) it is important to me to tell the story of my ancestors and heritage through my artwork and be a model for this process for my students.
I have been weaving since I took an elective course in college while studying for my Early Childhood/Elementary Education /Art degree. I have been involved with teaching children and adults for more than 15 years and have developed a style of teaching that enables children to have the most success while challenging them to grow and take creative risks. In 2012-2013, I was the Diversity Director for the Knit the Bridge project through the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. This project exposed me to working with various populations from pre-school to the elderly. I have learned to adapt my art projects to a diverse range of skills, styles and abilities.
I try to inspire students to see and interact with their environment artistically while developing their inherent aesthetics and cultural awareness. At Winchester Thurston we artistically interpreted a science project based on trees and nature into a 10 ft soft sculpture tree installation in which we made the trunk, branches, vines and flowers out of felt to create a permanent installation for the school. In subsequent Artist Residencies we have added insects, acorns and other natural objects as an ongoing project and exhibit.
(below: images from LaVerne's recent Residency Project at Ambridge Area Middle School, where students created personal and collaborative weavings, while also learning braiding, beading, wet felting, and hand stiching processes.)