Published to accompany the exhibition curated by Dexter Wimberly and presented by the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, Billie Zangewa: Thread for a Web Begun explores Zangewa’s creation of literal and figurative tapestries of the everyday lives and contemporary intersectional identities of Black women. Through her hand-sewn silk collages, which primarily depict Black women in the domestic sphere, Zangewa reclaims a medium that was once relegated as “women’s work” and delves into the familiarity, beauty, and sociopolitical drivers of the seemingly mundane. Beginning her career in the fashion and advertising industries, Zangewa employs her understanding of textiles to portray personal and universal experiences through domestic interiors, urban landscapes, and portraiture. Through the method of their making and their narrative content, Zangewa’s silk paintings illustrate gendered labor in a sociopolitical context, where the domestic sphere becomes a pretext for a deeper understanding of the construction of identity, questions around gender stereotypes, and racial prejudice.
This volume, packaged in a beautiful slipcase, showcases the past 15 years of Zangewa’s work as well as new pieces made for this exhibition, and although many of these decontextualized pieces are autobiographical, all of them portray a sense of intimacy and exploration of identity—connecting the pieces to each other through a larger narrative about Black femininity and tugging on the thread of the viewer’s own lived experience.
Editor: Dexter Wimberly