Grief is expressed in many forms, and dressing in mourning is traditionally represented in monochrome such as black, white, or purple fabrics. After the passing of her father in June 2020, Chimamanda Adichie’s expression of grief unfolded before the public eye in the form of her preferred medium: text. Thus it is only fitting that she also wear grief as text — but with a touch of her fashionista flair.

Sometime last year, Adichie began posting Instagram selfies wearing graphic tees that she designed in honor of her father, Professor James Nwoye Adichie, who passed away recently. The t-shirts feature a variety of colors and display her father’s initials as well as Igbo expressions meaning “her father’s daughter.”

In her recent The New Yorker essay, “Notes on Grief,” Adichie reflects on the therapeutic experience of designing her own t-shirts:

It is design as therapy, filling the silences I choose, because I must spare my loved ones my endless roiling thoughts. I must conceal just how hard grief’s iron clamp is. I finally understand why people get tattoos of those they have lost. The need to proclaim not merely the loss but the love, the continuity. I am my father’s daughter: it is an act of resistance and refusal, grief telling you that it is over and your heart saying that it is not, grief trying to shrink your love to the past and your heart saying that it is present.

These are not the first t-shirts featuring Chimamanda Adichie’s words. In 2017, Dior designed t-shirts with Adichie’s TED talk quote, “We Should All Be Feminists,” to benefit Rihanna’s charity.

Whether to process her own grief or to help others, Chimamanda Adichie’s t-shirts reinforce the central role of writing in her life and the relationship between text and art.

Take a look at some of Adichie’s t-shirt with art selfies below: