Qualeasha Wood is a textile artist whose work contemplates realities around black female bodies, contemporary technology, and consumption. Meet this young artist reimagining craft in a digital era.
Inspired by a familial relationship to textiles, queer craft, Microsoft Paint and internet avatars, Wood’s tufted and tapestry pieces mesh traditional craft and contemporary technological materials. Her own image acts as a point of departure for works that explore racial, sexual and gender identity as they relate to the Black femme body. As a digital native, Wood deftly navigates an internet environment that is at once a space of celebration and recognition for Black femme figures, as well as a politically loaded site for the ongoing marginalization and exploitation of their selfhood and culture. Woods’ tapestries combine cybernetic and analogue processes; in her work, a pixel is equivalent to a stitch, each stitch an analogy for the past, present and future of Black femmehood, both on- and off-line, pre- and post-internet.
While Wood’s tapestries blend images from social media with religious, specifically Catholic, iconography, her ‘tuftings’ represent cartoon-like figures that recall the racist caricatures widespread in popular family programs of the early-mid-20th century and beyond. As well as marking a technical shift from the artist’s tapestry pieces, the tuftings have a distinctly different visual style. In them, Wood adopts a naïve aesthetic that calls on the nostalgia of cartoon animations and their association with racial stereotyping to unpack notions of Black girlhood. Despite their formal simplicity, the tuftings reveal a lurking tension drawn from the artist’s own experiences of consuming media rife with anti-Black prejudice throughout her life. Where the tapestries are absorbed in consumption and cyber culture, the tuftings speak to inherited trauma and necessarily implicate accountability in the viewer.
Qualeasha has exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY); Hauser and Wirth (New York, NY); Art Basel Miami Beach with Kendra Jayne Patrick (New York, NY); Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, (London, UK); CANADA gallery (New York, NY); the Trout Museum of Art (Appleton, WI); NADA Miami Beach 2020 with Kendra Jayne Patrick (Miami, FL); Kendra Jayne Patrick for Metro Pictures (New York, NY); Cooper Cole (Toronto, ON); New Image Art (Los Angeles, CA); Gaa Gallery (Provincetown, MA).
Text adapted from Pippy Houldsworth Gallery Artist Page