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Next Friday, March 11, marks the opening of Teem, a collaborative installation by Mary Babcock and Christopher Curtin. A first for Textile Arts Center!

Teem superimposes metaphors of water (movement/potentiality), and the sea (the infinite, comfort, danger, aloneness) to evoke a sense of dreamspace — the space of possibility. Using textiles, Teem creates an environment where viewers find themselves under the surface of the water at the powerful juncture where river currents meet the ocean tides, where the individual meets the collective.

(Previously installed as “Deluge”- see below)

Chris will be joining us for the Opening Reception, giving a talk that night on concept and installation. Unfortunately, Mary, the fiber artist of the two, is located in Hawaii and will be unable to join us… However, in preparation for the installation that will begin tomorrow I’ve been looking at Mary’s work a ton.

Through performance, installation, and textile media, Mary focuses on many familiar issues to us (war, revolution, natural and manmade disaster), through the idea of “mending” — something we’ve been talking about a lot lately around here.

Epitaph – Created in response to the US invasion on Iraq. TheWedge Gallery, Asheville, NC, 2003

Dirty Laundry – Performance/installation created in response to the US invasion on Iraq. TheWedge Gallery, Asheville, NC, 2003

In Mary’s words: “My work explores ‘mending’ and its implications for cultural change. Although I work across traditionally defined media and conceptual boundaries, the grounding point for my work is in the metaphors derived from fiber processes (e.g. stitching, binding, weaving, piecing) and the overarching concept of mending. I am interested in how precise application of fiber metaphors may heighten our understanding of both peace-building and of fractures in the foundations for social justice. Tattering might be inherent. It is part of the wear and tear – some necessary, some not so necessary. But we seem to fall short on the art of mending.

I am deeply interested in the profundity of listening and of silence – of listening to the conversation between materials, thoughts and processes and of experiencing the rich silence of open space. I investigate ‘making’ as a form of contemplative action – as a tool for illuminating implicit knowledge of our potential for compassion and our proclivities for grief, confusion and complicity with structural and personal violence.”

Departire – Site specific installation at Ueno Town Art Museum, formerly Sakamoto Elementary School, for Threshold: Sustainable Art Project, Ueno/Tokyo, Japan, 2009. A response to Tokyo’s changing age demographics that leave elementary schools vacant and shift cultural mores. Pieced from over 50 nagajugan, mostly of vintage silk from obsolete Japanese textile mills, handsewn by students and volunteers in workshop settings.

Circumspect – Created in response to the US invasion on Iraq. The Jones House, Boone, NC. Materials: Wall Street Journal and NY Times, stained; tapestries of black walnut dyed silk, kozo and book binders thread; typewriter erasure ribbons, post post mortem surgical needles. Chronicles deaths of the “coalition forces”. The names of those who died between the March 21st invasion and April 1, 2004 (the showʼs opening) were deleted from the ribbons as they silently vanished from our lives.

While we find no shortage of political art in general, and specifically in the fiber and textile world, I find Mary’s approach to be unique. Instead of speculating the problem, it focuses on a solution, forcing us to think about what comes next.

Looking at her work, even through image, does invoke the feeling of silence. It makes me stop — at first at it’s beauty, and after reading her Artist Statement — to contemplate my own ability to pay attention to relationships between people, materials, concepts, places. Our ability, as humans, to withstand pain and hardship (including the ways we provoke it) and then our ability to focus on how to fix it. What new solutions can we come up with, and what can we learn from older ideas?

Unnatural Acts – Prickly pear fiber, silver solder, wire. 2003 Addresses the unnaturalness of imposed boundaries and forced militarism.

Deluge – Created in collaboration with Christopher Curtin for The Netshed at Alderbrook Station, Astoria, OR, 2010. Once the site of a thriving, albeit contested, salmon fishing industry, the Netshed – where fishermen would repair their gillnets – is an historical structure that serves as an icon for the interplay of migration, economy, ecology, dispossession and reclamation. Using hand-dyed cloth, the metaphor of water and reclaimed gillnets – the material that originally necessitated the site – we sought to re-engage the building’s history as a site of restoration and repair, creating a poetic context in which viewers might dream new possibilities for dialogue and negotiation. Gillnets provided by the Columbia River Fisherman’s Protective Union’s gillnet recycling project. Photo credit: http://www.donfrankphotography.com

I cannot wait to see Teem installed in our space. Other programming through March and April will be yoga and mediation, shibori, and Abigail Doan’s Earth Day workshop.

Hope to see you next Friday, March 11 for the Opening from 8-11PM! The show will be up through April. And you can check out the video of “Deluge” to get an idea of what will be up here.

I’ve got my mind set on Spring. I’m feeling claustrophobic and itchy in my layers, putting on boots ignites anger, and I just want to go to the damn beach. March is the worst month in this regard, and so to keep myself from avoiding SAD I’ve been thinking a lot about my plants.

I was given a my first potted plant by my mother when I went off to college. He’s almost seen his final days quite a number of times, but now that I’m settled, he seems to be settled and happy in my window sill with an Ivy I bought last Spring right around this time. So on this dreary day, while a jack hammer takes out our back floor spewing soil everywhere, I thought of Megan Piontkowski.

A few weeks ago, we had a drop-in visit from a local artist named Megan Piontkowski. This has to be one of my favorite parts about working here. I love when artists or designers stop in to see the space, introduce themselves, and we get to know a little more about the person at the same time as being introduced to their work.

Megan proposed some classes, and when I took a look at her website, her work immediately lifted my winter-blues.

The plants, of course, made me smile — but overall, there is a quirky and light air to everything she does — from her illustrations of her alter ego, Sebastian, to more political, tongue-in-cheek satire, like her own Economic Stimulus Plan.

I am also a fan of her embroidery. Somewhere behind my cluttered desk, I am a minimalist at heart.

Overall, I’d like to fill my apartment with things this subtly beautiful and happy. Only 21 days to go!

(Photos courtesy Megan Piontkowski — sorry for the small size!)

A few weeks ago, we were approached by a nice Irish man working for Japanese TV. He was working on a segment that highlighted the “craft wave” in and around NYC and Brooklyn. In particular he was interested in highlighting our weaving and shoe making classes, and he discussed with us the various ways in which we felt this “craft wave” was growing, affecting individuals, as well as the economy.

I feel like we’ve been having this conversation a lot, through several interviews happening around the same time (EcoSalon, Brooklyn Based), and it’s really actually helped in how we run things here. For the most part, we are doing what we believe in and what we think will make people happy. But when you are asked specific questions, it forces you to wrap your mind around what you’re actually doing — what is going on in a larger picture. And rather than just feeling it, you can talk about it in a more concrete way. I like that.

Alisa, one of our wonderful previous interns, shows up on the video as a weaver. She is Japanese, and her father still lives there. So when he randomly saw her on TV one night, he sent her the clip through Youtube:

Now I only wish I could understand Japanese and know what it says under my face while I’m speaking..

(photo courtesy EcoSalon)

Back in October we held a class taught by the wonderful Emily Fischer of HapticLab.

Emily was a wonderful teacher and I was so happy we were able to offer a basic quilting class that engaged people with contemporary design. Quilting inherently is a a bit nostalgic — evoking images of rocking chairs, Grandma, piecing together old clothes so you can keep them around forever and ever… Whatever one’s general opinion on the “typical” quilt look, quilting is a fantastic skill that can be used in so many ways and applied to all kinds of items.

However, I think it can be a little difficult to find people doing new and interesting things with the very time consuming hobby. Emily is a long time quilter, with a family-quilting background, but her clean and modern aesthetic allows for items that are “New York chic” with a level of nostalgia that is just right and suitable to the individual.

I had been ogling Emily’s work for awhile, and after meeting her, was so happy she was willing to teach at TAC. Of course, in my stupidity, I thought I’d actually have time to take the class…I hardly got beyond cutting out my backing. However, Carol Cho over at BurdaStyle, posted her finished project! It’s so exciting to see finished student work, particularly in use or back in their own environment.

A perfect example of how Emily’s quilts allow for the individual to create something relevant to place, space, memory, through text, drawing, fabric choice. Carol’s USA map tracks all the cities she has visited with her boyfriend.

Emily is also a really good person. She has been working with Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and this weekend they will have a huge Open House at the new Gallery on Atlantic Ave, which you should all go to! RSVP = maligi@mskcc.org.

Yesterday, Isa and I had a very nice ending to a day of bad news. We headed up to the American Folk Art Museum for the Fashion Lab in Process panel discussion “Re-Made in America” moderated by Daria Dorosh and featuring a wonderful group of speakers:

Sarah Scaturro, the textile conservator at the Cooper Hewitt; Eileen Fisher; Melissa Kirgin and Xing-Zhen Chung Hilyard of Eko-Lab; Meiling Chen of Fearless Dreamer; Jose Martinez; Gayil Nalls; Despina Papadopoulos; Sabine Seymour; and presenters from Shima Seiki (creator of WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine)

The discussion was meant to examine the future of fashion, and exploring what the next evolution for fashion will be, and whether or not sustainable practices are compatible with technology and further advancements.

The conversation was very interesting, and I attribute this to the wide variety of speakers and backgrounds, as well as great questions coming from Daria Dorosh, founder of FLiP (Fashion Lab in Process) While the conversation went through all the most pertinent topics related to sustainability in fashion, and how possible it is, I was happy that the main idea that came out of the discussion was that it would not be one thing that could save us all, it will be a combination over time — but the key will be to take the developments and educate the consumer.

So many interesting things were touched upon like the WHOLEGARMENT knitting machines, and an interactive app being developed by Jose Marinez that would provide tags in clothing that will pull up vital background information on the garment.

I was also so happy to finally meet Daria, who will be participating in the upcoming Earth Day event with Abigail Doan, and learn more about FLiP:


(EkoLab deconstructions for FLiP)

“Fashion Lab in Process, (FliP™) is a new company created and directed by Fashion Institute of Technology, NY, educator and artist, Daria Dorosh, PhD.

FliP™ uses a public performance process to communicate a sustainable design philosophy with a
social responsibility agenda that addresses the current state of the fashion world and beyond.

The concept behind FliP™ is to bring designers and customers together through a creative retail experience. FliP™ presents fashion surrounded by video, art and performance to celebrate its reconstructed, repurposed, don’t-waste-anything aesthetic. The public is invited to join in the fun, watch a garment makeover, and walk away with a unique fashion purchase.

FliP™ will demonstrate how mass produced fashion can be made sustainable by being transformed into one- of-a-kind fashions through a process that re-values garments and involves the public in a unique fashion experience.

Fashion Lab in Process is ready to share its novel concept and program that increases
opportunities for young designers. To find out how this can be done for retailers who would like a FliP™ fashion makeover in their store, please contact Daria Dorosh, Director.” – (www.fashionlabinprocess.com)

Which brings me to the plug : )

Help us get you educated — join us Sunday, February 13, 1-4PM for a Fashion Week Mending Brunch!

(Courtesy Dr.X’s Free Associations, Lewis W. Hine)
  • Bring (1) item from your closet that needs some TLC
  • TAC staff will help you transform it through dyeing, screen printing, and sewing
  • Go home happy with something brand “new”!

rsvp@textileartscenter.com

Pumpkins come out on Labor day, Christmas tinsel comes out the day before Thanksgiving, and I’m forced to care what the hell I’m going to do on February 14th as the ball drops. All cringeworthy reminders of our rapidly approaching future — we can’t seem to just enjoy the present, can we?

But, I’ve quit the typical hating on Valentines day in last few years (I’m down to an eye-roll), and this year am even happy, proud, to say that we are having a small Valentine’s Day event(!!) at Textile Arts Center.

For tonight’s AfterWorkShop, we’re joining in with Etsy for Special Delivery. Etsy, and many others, are taking some time to make Valentine’s Cards to be donated to City Meals-On-Wheels to be handed out with the daily delivery on February 14. City Meals-On-Wheels serves over 18,000 people — so we need a lot. Can’t make it tonight? You can donate money, volunteer, or come to Etsy Labs on Monday, Jan 31.

So, join us to spread some love, and add some joy to the holiday we cynical New Yorkers take for granted. TONIGHT, Jan 28, 6:30-9PM.

For some inspiration, I’m very much enjoying these from Crooked Sister:

And though this is on fabric (we’ll be doing paper) — still sweet — from katie.cupcake:

And a little more abstract, yet a great effect — from A Little Hut :

We’ll also be doing a little cardboard recycling, a-la Design*Sponge:

Apologies — Isa and I have been very bad with sharing stories and photos from our long-lost trip to Peru in early December.

Aside from the obvious favorite spot (Machu Picchu), by far the most rewarding part of the trip was getting to take a tour with Annie and Emma from Awamaki up to Patacancha, where they work with women for the weaving project.

A couple of years ago (pre-Textile Arts Center and in a hurry to get out of a bad job) I was planning to spend 6 months in Ollantaytambo volunteering with Awamaki. Time passed, and suddenly Textile Arts Center was starting, and Awamaki moved to the back burner. Then, one day in October, Tara St. James of Study NY emailed me to introduce Annie to us. Tara had been work as a mentor to a new project, Awamaki Lab, where a fashion designer would spend a few months in Peru to create a capsule collection using traditional Peruvian designs, with the goal of training local women for production (and eventually design, as well)

I was so happy to be put back in touch with the organization, and thrilled that someone had taken the initiative with such a project there, that we immediately made plans to spend plenty of time in Ollantaytambo when we went to Peru. Annie generously let us join a tour, taking us up into the mountains — far from paved roads, toilets, electricity — to Patacancha.

(from the road, drive to Patacancha)

(standing in the valley, at Patacancha)

We were shown what Awamaki had set up for the community of families (several small structures; the first working toilet in the area) and went through their processes of spinning, natural dyeing and backstrap weaving. The group of women, who ranged in age, then each took out their individual work, from which Awamaki places orders to sell in the Fair Trade store in Ollanta.

Starting with our wait at 6am in Ollanta’s main plaza, we got to see the inner workings of the small town. While Ollanta is quite touristy, being one of the main stops in the Sacred Valley, getting to see the more day to day operations of the people in Ollanta, as well as neighboring village, was absolutely incredible.

(5am, Heart Cafe in Ollantaytambo)

And NOW… Annie, Awamaki Lab, and Nielli Vallin get to share their hard work at their launch party/pop up shop.

Join us, and many others, to celebrate the launch of the first capsule collection by Nielli Vallin tomorrow night:

January 20, 7-10PM

208 Bowery St, 2nd Floor (between Prince + Spring)

An exciting weekend.

Friday was the Opening for Missing/Missed, curated by Scott Henstrand. The turnout was great, and the feedback thus far has been positive. Congratulations to Scott, and all the artists, on a wonderful show!

Visit our Facebook album for more photos

or see more about the show here.

And on Sunday, we had a first meeting with our 6 new Resident Artists!

And, so, I’d like you to meet them as well:

Denise Maroney

Denise recently returned from Lebanon, where she produced a traveling theater group called “Books in Motion”. The group traveled throughout the area, to perform small acts in abandoned train stations. She also helped design and create all the costumes.

Now she is back in NYC and will join us for the next leg of her journey, exploring her life long interest in dress and why we choose to wear what we do, as well as her strong admiration for Islamic fashion.

Check out this interview with Denise on her work in Lebanon.

 

 

Astrid Lewis Reedy

Astrid is a graphic designer by profession, but undergoing the process of exploring new routes of expression and employment through textiles and product design. She is a machine knitter, felter, and quilter who uses collage methods to combine many things to create a whole.

While at TAC, Astrid plans to create a first collection of home wares focusing on the the things we “keep” through tangible and intangible heirlooms. She also wants to continue her attempts to “hack” into her electronic knitting machine, directly connecting it to a computer and trying out new patterning techniques.

 

 

Julia Ramsey

Julia is an incredibly talented machine knitter, who has created commercial work, as well as completed her own collections of knit wedding dresses, and other knit sculpture exploring the consciousness of the human body.

While at TAC, Julia plans to research and develop her interest in the idea of a “dowry” and how textiles have traditionally come into play. Focusing on the history of the dowry in Georgia and Armenia, Julia plans to create parts of a dowry, that follow fictional characters.

Tali Weinberg

Tali is a current graduate student at NYU. Her thesis will explore the growth of community and contemporary textile crafts, in relation to ecology and social justice.

Aside from her activist and community organizational work, Tali is also a weaver, natural dyer, and sewer. While at TAC she will use the others around her, whether artists or students, as part of her research, while working on her own artwork.

 

Jill Magi

Jill is a poet, writer, and artist. In her current work, she uses embroidery techniques to draw on paper, also exploring repetition, the artist series, installation, projection and performance. Very attuned to language through writing, her approach is most often conceptual, playing with the subtext of language as well as the presence of the hand and body.

She currently has an installation in the Missing/Missed exhibition at TAC, and plans to spend her time here on a new project related to labor and work.

Whitney Crutchfield

We first met Whitney two summers ago, when she was a volunteer in our first year of Summer Camp. How happy we are to have her join us again!

Having just completed her MFA in Textiles from Colorado State, Whitney primarily studies repeat patterns and printing methods, and finds her relaxation through weaving.

After completing her thesis, she wants to explore the refuse from the process of creating — what can be done with the things were not purposefully created?

 

As General Manager at TAC, I often answer the question of whether or not I create anymore. And my answer is usually no, that I’ve really devoted myself to Textile Arts Center, and found far more fulfillment in that — watching others create — than creating for myself. While this is true, and it’s been several years since doing my own artwork, I left last nights meeting incredibly inspired to make that time for myself again.

I can’t wait to see what these 6 talented women do in the next couple of months, and finding my own creativity again through discussion and learning — even if I’m just sitting in on critiques.

I am incredibly lucky to have this life at Textile Arts Center.

Isa and I have been talking a ton about things we want to change in this coming year. I’m not a huge believer in “resolutions”, per se, but I do really enjoy the new year. It marks a very clear end and beginning for me, that mentally frees up space to suck it up and let some things go. Or take on new things

We talked yesterday about making the time again to go see gallery shows, and be even more involved in the arts community, particularly textiles. I mean, it’s out job. But the other thing I have avoided for some time are movies. I can’t really relate to award season for anything other than the dresses (totally fair) but I do feel I could be better when it comes to movies (haven’t ever seen any of the Godfather series..whoops) I generally shy away from having to sit in an uncomfortable chair with a group of strangers, unable to press pause and do something else for awhile.

But with all the free films in the summer time, and interesting independent projects going on, I want to promise to see more. I can allow myself some time to relax, sit in a dark room, and absorb new information that takes me outside of my general little world. And there is no excuse for not cuddling up on the couch in the comfort of my own home with a remote control.

So, been meaning to post this trailer for some time, but as I stopped at Rite Aid this morning and was given a double-shopping-bag for my pack of gum, I decided it was time:

I know, I missed the NY screening by a long shot (resolution fail) but I’m hoping it comes back around soon!

(courtesy Bag It Movie)

Good ideas usually do, and thanks to Maya at Sewing Rebellion we’ve now started the Mending Circle as a new monthly gathering. Last night was the first!

We weren’t sure what to expect — we’ve had many sorts of free workshops, and other open houses. We hadn’t had the time to promote it properly, so didn’t expect a large crowd.

It was the loveliest group! 10 or so people, who brought their own projects, chatting about life, textiles, and what-not — just a completely fun and mellow vibe. (Though I was stuck working in the office, it was so nice to hear and see it going on)

In particular, this kind of workshop suits our mission precisely. We will be able to bring in monthly guests, focus on specific mending skills, and aim to share and teach as much as possible to both those who know how and those who want to know how. However, this was a new vibe — a group of people who genuinely wanted the company while getting back to left projects or fix that sweater that got tossed in back of the closet.

(sorry — no images of our own yet)

While educating will always be part of the mission, the other part is fostering a community. This was such a perfect example of what we hoped would happen without forcing it — bringing together many, or few, people who want to meet, and both give and take within the situation. Everyone had something to share, whether a new skill, a story, or just advice. We look forward to this continuing throughout the year.

Ecouterre’s recent article on sustainable fashion predictions for 2011 went through a ton of great ideas and thoughts from a fantastic set of people. One idea that stands out to us continuously is that if anything is to change in the fashion industry, it is very much in the hands of the consumer. Designers and producers have their job, too, but there is only so far that can go. As consumers, if we want to talk the talk, we must walk the walk (annoying-but-true phrase). Buying quality items, being creative and making things for ourselves, simply mending old things, or transforming them into something new and exciting. It’s a mindset of appreciating what we have and, with the money we do decide to treat ourselves with, buy something beautiful from a designer that we believe in. And then mend it, and make it work forever.

Thanks to everyone who came out! Though Mending Circle will normally be the first Thursday of each  month, join us next in February for a special on during NY Fashion Week. More info to come..

Terribly sorry for the serious/lecture post, but just a reminder that you can count on TAC if you are looking for the skills or the community. : )

I’ll leave you on a snowy Friday with this awesome video about Michael Swaine, who years ago turned an ice cream cart into a portable sewing table in Tenderloin area of San Fran, and has since made quite an impact. Make sure you watch — totally worth it.

 

(courtesty SFGate)

 

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