Why are textiles so awesome?!
I love textiles. It started with sewing and knitting as a kid and then later continued at school printing, dyeing and weaving. I remember when I had to take my first weaving class as part of my textile program - I really wanted to skip it in favor of other “cooler” processes like screen-printing. I had this idea that weaving was for old hippies, and was probably a pointless exercise in todays’ fast-paced industrial world. It’s time-consuming and frankly I’m not known for my patience. But the first time I warped up and wove, I was totally in love. It’s incredible the permutations of pattern and structure that can be made in what’s essentially a binary environment where your fundamental choice is warp up, or warp down. I think the thing that I really love, is that weaving is not some easy occupation – it requires great design + math + conceptual skills on top of the hand skills you need to physically make the cloth, and there’s easily enough to learn to fill several lifetimes. Now that’s a challenge.
At it’s most basic, the story of cloth is the story of people, and when you make art or objects using cloth you’re engaging with an incredibly rich history and language going back thousands of years. Cloth is used to consolidate social relations and mobilize political power. Cloth ushered in the age of industrialization as we know it, bringing with it issues of urban migration, class and gender politics. The jacquard loom and the work of Ada Lovelace are considered the precursor to the modern computer.
Cloth is a metaphor for connectedness in societies around the world – we’re all familiar with common expressions like “the fabric of life” and stories involving thread and weaving abound in Greek mythology.
And so here, I’m going to leave you with some images of my current favorite contemporary textile work. And I’m gonna go make something!
Converse by Dashing Tweeds. These guys are a cutting edge UK-based company making a name with cloth for modern cyclists made with reflective thread for safety at night.
Work by artist Brent Wadden. He was recently in a show at the Audain Gallery and the SFU Gallery in Vancouver.
Master of print: Mary Kantrantzou.
Artist Jessica Bell. She's currently finishing her MFA so her site isn't fully up right now, but I have been practically Internet stalking her work for ages. It's amazing.
Color master Ptolemy Mann: weaver extraordinaire + color consultant.
More cool kicks. Nike + Pendleton. Seriously.
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