Neighborhood Time Exchange: Betty Leacraft

Selection of hand-dyed scarves by Betty Leacraft. Photo by Albert Yee.

Betty Leacraft teaches her fabric dyeing technique to students at the Neighborhood Time Exchange hub. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About the Artist and Her Projects 

Betty is a fiber mixed media artist, educator, and lecturer residing in West Philadelphia. Her work is informed by artistic and cultural traditions of Africa and the African Diaspora, addressing themes of identity, heritage, nature, symbolism, and ritual. She has received grants and awards, and her work has been exhibited nationally, internationally and published in several books. As a teaching artist, she creates opportunities for underserved, underresourced communities and individuals through interactive, hands-on textile/fiber arts projects. She is skilled in textile dyeing, painting, and printing, as well as sewing, and quilt making.

One must be prepared to expect the unexpected; being in the 1st cohort of a residency like this means becoming a “pioneer in uncharted territory” who paves the rough road for those who follow. Working as an artist and community volunteer means being willing to be open to the ideas of those making service requests, forming and nurturing relationships, trying to understand the existing culture of the neighborhood, really listening to what people want or need, being willing to understand and respect the aesthetics of others knowing that your way of seeing beauty is not the only way, and having or developing the ability to put one’s ego aside.