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Broom Jumpers

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Bisa Butler (American, b. 1975), Broom Jumpers, 2019
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

Not On View
Butler, Bisa
American (1975-)
Place made: 
North America; United States
Broom Jumpers, 2019
Cotton, silk, wool and velvet
Overall: 87 in x 52 1/4 in; 221 cm x 132.7 cm
Purchase with the Belle and Hy Baier Art Acquisition Fund
MH 2019.37

Bisa Butler creates life-size depictions of black Americans composed solely of multi-layered fabric swatches and thread. Here, the tender gesture found in a 1930s photograph of a well-dressed man and woman inspired Butler to capture the couple’s self-assured pose. Riffing off the iconic styles and everyday experiences of black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries, the artist adorns this couple in layers of vibrant African wax-print fabrics, which both amplify and contrast with their stylish period attire. Set against a bold red textile with large hot pink flowers, the formal outfits, gold rings, and background flowers suggest that this couple is recently married. The title Broom Jumpers, references the historic custom of black American couples literally jumping over a broom to mark the end of a wedding ceremony, a tradition initiated when it was illegal in the United States for two enslaved individuals to be legally wed.