Twelve years running, the African American Fiber Art Exhibition is a key component of the North Charleston Arts Fest, held this May. Curated by local fiber artist Torreah “Cookie” Washington, this year’s show is dedicated to Dr. Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, who passed away last December. Washington remembers O’Bryant-Seabrook as a “quilting goddess.”

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day — a day filled with meaning, but also, inevitably, with a lot of inspirational quotes. One quote, though, never disappoints. Snagged from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” are a number of pithy phrases, but the titular words seem to be the ones that make their way onto T-shirts and yoga/sunrise pictures.

In case you’ve never seen the full poem — read it. Here’s my favorite stanza:

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Washington is embracing Angelou’s poem — and what it means to be not just a woman, but a phenomenal black woman, with the theme of this year’s show, Phenomenal Women. Washington asked artists to create fiber art, be it dolls or quilts, that pay homage to an African-American woman who many people may not know about.

For example, Washington’s work features Califa, who she describes as “a black Amazon queen who ruled over all colors of women, and the state of California is named for her. Cortez, the Spanish explorer came looking for her because he and many others believe that she ruled over the lost City of Gold. Many scholars are now saying that Califa is where the Wonder Woman story came from.”

Stay tuned for more details on when and where to check out the exhibit at this year’s North Charleston Arts Fest.

Love Best of Charleston?

Help the Charleston City Paper keep Best of Charleston going every year with a donation. Or sign up to become a member of the Charleston City Paper club.