Dr. Sharbreon Plummer has had a deep and particular interest in textiles and craft for as long as she can remember, informed by her roots in the deep South and by traditions within her own family. Her great grandmother quilted on a treadle machine, and her daughter, Sharbreon’s grandmother, sewed and endowed her skills to Sharbreon. Upon the passing of her great grandmother, Sharbreon inherited her Singer sewing machine. This opened a channel for new conversations and connections with others over fiber, textiles, and our relationships to them. It wasn’t until she did her dissertation at Ohio State University, that her textile practice reemerged.
Through her work, Sharbreon amplifies voices and stories that have historically been erased, with a particular focus on Black women and textiles, turning a close eye to forms of creativity, personal expression, and continued world making. She explores how tradition and community are formed outside of schools and other euro-centric institutions and systems, conducting interviews and extensive research to inform her written and theoretical work. Exploring and creating textiles, alongside her academic research, has offered her another way to investigate these histories.
In the process of her dissertation, Sharbreon found a renewed drive to delve into textile making. As she was studying and researching Black women and textiles, she wanted to be further present and to delve even deeper. Sharbreon believes that making with her hands creates an essential space for new information, and expresses that which notation and oration cannot capture.
Through arts-based research, Sharbreon was able to further explore embodiment, feeling, and cultural memory through creating textile work herself. The exploration resulted in a piece she titled “Manifesto for an Embodied Practice.” To create the piece, she took statements from her grandmother and from the other women she interviewed for her dissertation. She stitched their words onto fragments of cloth, then pieced these together to create one long swath. The piece is 8 feet long and wearable – a way to literally carry their words and her experience making it, with her.
Sharbreon notes that her research always starts with community. She builds relationships with those she works with, learning and getting to know them over time. She creates pathways for these connections to form, flourish, and continue into the future. She formed her book Diasporic Threads: Black Women, Fibre and Textiles following her dissertation, as a way to make this rich information accessible to a wider audience.
In her day to day, she finds time to create when she can, seeking a balance of exploration, planning, and making, with her academic work. She has recently studied backstrap weaving in Oaxaca, México, in preparation of using the skill in an upcoming piece. Her textile work often begins intuitively, as she jumps into each new project with care and curiosity. Undoubtedly, Sharbreon will draw upon her recent process of community forging, untold story telling and cultural history exploration, to shed new light on the continued relevance of generational and embodied practices.
Dr. Sharbreon Plummer
Dr. Sharbreon Plummer (Baton Rouge, LA) is an artist, strategist and storyteller whose work centers the stories and creativity of Black women. Sharbreon’s upbringing in southern Louisiana informs her interest into how culture and ancestral memory act as influencers of contemporary art-making.