Toni Kersey: From the Soul

Terminal D
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Philadelphia artist Toni Kersey has been interested in sewing and working with fabric since she was a child. As a young adult, she studied graphic design but it wasn’t until 2005 that she began using fabric as an artistic medium. Kersey says that she is “fascinated by color, pattern, shape, and visual rhythm,” and by utilizing fabric she is able to combine multiple patterns and textures to create her textile-based collages.

Kersey’s method of working is very intuitive. She says that “Improvisation guides my inspiration” as she cuts and composes hand-painted and commercial fabrics with a variety of found materials like buttons, feathers, and beads. And it’s through her choice of materials, their arrangement, and subject matter that evokes Kersey’s African heritage.

The importance of culture is further defined as Kersey uses the form of a hand-held fan as her canvas. For Kersey, this form symbolizes the church, a place where fans were commonly used by parishioners. Some of Kersey’s fans pay homage to African-American musicians including Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and Bessie Smith -- many of whom began their careers singing in the church choir. Others are more abstract and feature a circular mirror as the centerpiece to allow the viewer to visualize themselves. Kersey notes that the mirror provides a “physical and spiritual reflection” and enables one to “peer deeper into their soul.”

Toni Kersey received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Illinois. Her work has been exhibited throughout the region including the Allentown Art Museum; Art in City Hall, Philadelphia; Art Sanctuary, Philadelphia; Main Line Art Center, Haverford, The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg; and Woodmere Art Museum, Chestnut Hill.

Visit www.tonikersey.com.


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