Assignment for Design Studio II, April 2023
Paper, graphite, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

For this exercise, I selected 3 challenged or banned books to create book covers for: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou; The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende; and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. These three books are all written by women of color in a similar time period and all involve a discussion of racism and gender inequality. I chose to use textile as a way to explore these topics, due to textile’s historical association with women and defined gender roles, as well as due to the rich cultural history of different textile techniques. I researched textile history that related to the content of each book. For I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I researched African American quilting using sources of inspiration such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture and artist Bisa Butler. The House of Spirits features a Chilean family, so I researched Chilean arpilleras, which are textiles used for protest. In The Color Purple, the main characters travel to West Africa on a mission trip, so I learned about the appliqué techniques of the ancient West African kingdom of Dahomey, which is present-day Benin.

I wanted to find a balance between taking inspiration from the sources I researched and appropriating it as my own, so I decided to create my own digital “fabrics” by using the patterns I saw in my research as inspiration. To introduce a tactile element into the project, I drew patterns I saw by hand, scanned them in, image traced them, and created patterns with them using Adobe Illustrator. I then used the “fabrics” I made to create quilts of the book titles and minimal imagery. I added a frame around the border of the book covers to add an element of sophistication and unify the covers further. I also designed a publishing house logo that took inspiration from quilting patterns but also evoked an “X” to draw in the concept of banned books.