Prince Togbetse, Heather

My work has always served as a very personal outward expression of that which holds meaning to me.   It is created to give a voice to inner longings and to act as a catalyst in more fully experiencing the emotions, then releasing them. Though the work comes from within me, it is representative of universal life experiences, such as loss, growth, pain, perseverance, and love. The stories told connect us all.   

The current series, “Woven Into Me,” uses textiles to retell stories of my Grandmother’s life in the mountains of Parsons, West Virginia and how she is woven into the fabric of my life. Images are born from memories of our conversations throughout the years.   Textiles have been a very important part of my cultural heritage, so I chose this medium to further connect the work to my roots.     I utilize fabric remnants, materials, and methods that directly relate to the time period as much as possible. Using what’s at hand is also typical in the Appalachian culture and was significant in my family’s lives during the Great Depression. The details in each work of art are meticulously hand-stitched. I also create generic stuffed fabric dolls to represent the “characters” in each story, as the stories represent memories as interpreted by the artist. It is also done purposely to represent the universal theme of each work. The figures and other three dimensional elements are hand-painted using Jacquard dyes. Each work exemplifies events and decisions which challenge one’s character, morals and strength, ranging from racism to poverty.      

The trips I have taken to Ghana, West Africa have also been a source of great inspiration in my life and work. I am inspired by the richly colored batik fabrics and the symbols they contain. The batiks and hand-stamped Adinkra cloth used in this series speaks to the cultural heritage of the African people who also lived and labored in Appalachia.    My artwork pays homage to the past, while reflecting the amazing revelation that we are all woven together into a beautiful tapestry.   This work is a vivid illustration of how my own life and cultural heritage have come full-circle.

Address: P.O. Box 198
Ellerslie, MD 21529