Rosy Petri


Using traditional techniques in unconventional ways, I am a self-taught multimedia artist with a focus on textile portraiture. Each portrait is meant to capture and pay homage to the humanity of individuals in reverential essence. As a self-taught artist working with fabrics of the diaspora, it is important for me to acknowledge that these artist ancestors are the descendants of the survivors of the middle passage. As a daughter of diaspora who has been historically disconnected from those origins, I seek to explore my own ties to the African continent and diaspora.

The African wax print fabrics themselves are a result of colonialism: enslaved Africans were brought to Indonesia by the Dutch during the occupation. Here, traditional batik-making became the foundation for mechanized reproductions created by the Dutch. Further evolution of this journey led to Africans creating fabrics inspired by the failed reproductions, coupled with block printing styles and patterns more reflexive of communities on the continent. To this day, the fabrics are a cultural symbol of various African regions as well as children of the diaspora worldwide.

Using wax print fabrics in an improvisational manner, I apply them to my portraits through a traditional quilting technique called raw edge applique. Inspired by the stained-glass windows and icons of churches and cathedrals, I want to celebrate the sacredness of life through cultural iconography.