black and white photo of standing woman

Moki Cherry, Moki Cherry in Stockholm Photo: Peder Björkegren Bildupphovsrätt 2023

From Norrbotten to New York

Monika Marianne Karlsson was born in Koler in Norrbotten and grew up in Skåne. She moved to Stockholm in 1962 to study fashion, and even today, it is her work with textiles that she is perhaps best known for – under the name Moki Cherry.

During the second half of the 1960s, she traveled extensively with her husband, jazz musician Don Cherry (USA, 1936–1995), and her children. They lived in Stockholm until the end of 1968, and thereafter at several addresses in USA with constant travels to Europe and Turkey. Inspired by her travels, she also developed her painting. The various homes were decorated with wall paintings or larger-scale drawings that could be exhibited in a different context. The current exhibition includes examples from the apartment in Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

During their time in the USA they encountered racism and segregation close up. The society wasn’t ready to accept them as a couple because Moki was White and Don was Black, and it was hard for them to find a more permanent place to live. But for two semesters at Dartmouth College in 1970, Don Cherry actively used music as a way to desegregate the classroom. The Cherrys also opened their private home in Vermont to the students on weekends for joint workshops making costumes and sets with Moki. This created an opportunity to get together.

In the fall of 1970, the family moved to Tågarp in northern Skåne and transformed a former schoolhouse into their home – and also a gathering place for music, theater, children’s activities, and art. Eventually, they would split their lives between Tågarp and New York, and Moki continued to do this for the rest of her life.

textile patchwork in bright colors
Moki Cherry, Tågarp/NY (Photo series from Malibu beach), 1979 ©️Cherry Archive, Estate of Moki Cherry Bildupphovsrätt 2023

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