Archives for the month of: January, 2011

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:

It’s been nasty out lately – snow, snow showers, slushy snow, freezing rain.. Well, you know!!  And even if this is my 3rd Winter in NYC, my wardrobe is still not prepared for this weather (talk about Winter denial..).

And it was with wet weather on my mind that I came across the exhibition ” Beauty Born of Use: Natural Rainwear from China and Japan”, now on view at the Textile Museum of Canada. The exhibition features examples of rainwear made in mid 20th century in China and Japan. The garments were made using plant materials that were available locally and renewable, like bamboo, tree barks, reeds, etc, without compromising in a bit the fantastic design.

Rain cape, rice straw, bast fiber, cotton, China, mid 20th century

According to the Textile Museum’s most recent educational tool, Social Fabric (please make a minute to check it, it’s so worth it!), this cape was made using rice straw that was folded and stitched together, assuming the appearance and functionality of a thatched roof. People in remote areas of China still wear these capes to this day.

Rain cape; palm bark fiber, bast fiber, cotton; China, mid 20th century

Rain hat, plant material, grass, Japan, mid 20th century

Since early times, the people in these countries have been using the materials locally available to construct waterproof garments. For instance, in China, this kind of garments go back earlier than Ming dynasty, and where woven using straw, grass and pipal tree leaves. In Japan, people also always used what was readily available to make garments, like rice and wheat straw, reed, bark, vines, and seaweed. However, all these skills and traditions for making weather resistant garments are being forgotten, and like everywhere being replaced by the ubiquitous plastic.

I think rain and snow wouldn’t be so bad if I was protected by one of this! If you’re going to Toronto before May 1, make sure you make a stop to go see and admire these garments. And please tell me more about it!

Hello all, sorry about my absence over here at the Textile Arts Center blog.  But now I am back and will be continuing my “Thread Reviews” every other Wednesday.  Yay!

Generally I use this forum to review and give my take on thread related show, artist, book, etc. hence the name Thread Reviews. However, today will be a little unusual.  Recently one of my blog followers contacted me and asked me an interesting question and since these posts are generally my opinion on something, I thought it was the perfect place to respond. Though is does not deal directly with fibers.

Damien Hirst

She asks:

I’ve been reading a book about the economics of contemporary art. The $12 million stuffed shark, to be exact. It’s been an eye opening read to the world of art.
I’ve discovered…that I love handmade art… And I see nothing wrong with artists striving to be featured on cool blogs, with a cyber following of normal people. But who also are involved with showing their work, and selling their work, but not with the main goal of making a million dollars. But it seems like our culture has created this expectation that kids who want to be artists have to be Mona Lisa famous to be successful. And that’s so annoying to me!

I’m curious what established artists, like yourself, feel about million dollar art auctions, art fairs, branded museums and branded artists.

I thought the question was really interesting and actually think I have a good basis of knowledge to answer so here goes. I feel like there are  2 questions here.

1. what do I think of the million dollar art market and artist?

2. What do I think about the expectation put on artist’s to be Mona Lisa famous in order to be successful.

Since those are BIG questions I can only give an opinion and will break it up with 1. this week and the 2. next time.

Jeff Koons

In general I am not personally into splashy, glamorous, million dollar art of the nature of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.  But I am also not against it.  When I was a younger and more naive artist the thought of having a slew of assistants making my art and the artists hand being hardly present seemed totally ludicrous and often this is the very art that sells for millions and millions of dollars. But as my knowledge about the life of an artist, the experience of blue chip artists, and the understanding of contemporary art practices my opinion has softened.

I have had the luxury of working at  PaceWildenstein one of the highest level galleries in the country and personally interact with a handful of high selling artists in one way or the other.  This experience has allowed me to see first hand the pressure put on these high selling artists to make more, do more, produce more, and show more. The reality is if they are selling the gallery wants them to sell, sell, sell. As a result more assistants get hired, more integrity can get compromised, the work perhaps becomes more generic, or branded, but in exchange also more recognizable, the million dollar art machine churns.  And then the artist is often trapped within their own machine of art making.

Quickly they find themselves responsible for their livelihood, their assistant’s livelihood, their dealers main income, and often even more.

Damien Hirst

Now for some artist’s such as like Damien Hirst this works well for them. His work is not and has never been about him, as a person, or his hand as an artist. His work is very conceptually based therefore it simply does not matter if he makes it or someone else does.  Hirst is also always questioning the very art world that he exists in so to me it is quite ironic that as he pokes fun and questions the art world they just keep feeding him more and more. Literally and figuratively.

Kiki Smith

Now for other artists that make more sensitive work that comes from a highly personal place I think this trap of being a million dollar artist can be a much more difficult journey.  When your work is all about you and your hand you begin to lose quality when being pressured to produce more and let go of the making more and this can lead to a lack of consistency in the artists work.  A very bad side affect to the million dollar art market.

However, if our society is going to make it so that football players are going to get paid millions of dollars to play their sport than artist’s FOR SURE should get paid millions of dollars to create art and comment on our culture and society.  Especially since these very artists are employing and supporting many of us more normal folks through assistantship’s and gallery jobs. We need someone to make money in art or none of us do.

John Currin

Rather then holding the million dollar artist up on the cross I would be more likely to hold up a mirror to our culture that supports this.  It would be so much nicer if most art collecting was not all about the investment but about the love of the art. But in this current culture and commercialized world this is simply not the case. I have known of collectors that will buy a piece that they have never seen in person, based on investment value only, and have it shipped directly to a storage facility. Perhaps owning it for years and never seeing it hung or installed. To me this is the atrocity.

Gagosian Gallery

As artists, yes we all want to make a living on our art and in general the more successful we become the more expensive that living becomes and the more people we are responsible for. But I doubt any of us want to sell a piece of art that we care about so see it sit in a crate never to be looked at again just because it gets us paid.  But then again we all gotta eat.

Parlor Antics a Brooklyn based, artist run, exhibition space.

To me the real problem is with the gallery industry. Most gallerist’s are looking for what will sell. This alienates a huge pocket of artists that are working in less traditionally areas such as performance, sound, and installation. Therefore these artists, no matter how talented, have an even bigger struggle sharing their work let alone making a living off of it. But even in the more traditional mediums it is too often not about “I want to show this artist because I love them.” but instead “I can sell this work.”  I think the answer becomes that the artists have to push back against this commodification of the gallery industry.  We have to demand more respect from our gallerist. Not be afraid to out a gallerist for bad behavior, such as NOT PAYING artists for their sold artwork. (I kind of think that would be called stealing in most worlds.) But their has been a dynamic set up where artists are so often so afraid to offend someone – that they end up screwed somehow in the end.

Starn Brothers MTA installation.

I do see a light at the end of the tunnel in that there are more and more artists rejecting the traditional gallery role but self-promoting, showing in different non-traditional venues, and selling their work directly.  This is even being seen in high level artist such as the Starn Brother’s, who represent themselves and recently installed a permanent piece in the NYC subway system. But we are a long way from Brigadoon.


Now to Art Fairs.  Well to me they SUCK.  Most art was not intended to be seen in a “mall ” situation where there is no consideration to the environment, the relationships to other work, oh how the list goes on.  Most serious artists would never apply to a show that is held in some “pseudo” art space where as much art as possible is shoved into an ugly, poorly lit room. So why are we all scrambling to show at these.  Exhibition spaces are meant to be a place where you can see art in the best way possible, having the space and appropriate environment to allow the art to tell us its story.  Art Fairs strip the art down to a thing to buy.  Again the gallery industry and the collectors are to blame but as artist’s we can make the choice to feed the beast or not.

Mixed Greens Gallery, Chelsea, NY, NY.

I think a huge part of the problem is a lack of education for many collectors.  They now about investing but not about the experience and role of art as much, most people that have the money to invest in art are not artists. Gallerist’s often feed this lack of knowledge as it generates easier sales instead of taking the time to teach their collectors. One Chelsea based exception that jumps out at me is Mixed Greens Gallery, far from a million dollar gallery, but a very respected and successful space. They focus on emerging artists, selling work at prices that a young collector can invest in. Their mission is not only to support the artist but to educate and grow a collector. If more galleries took this model more artists would be making a living as an artist.

Louise Bourgeois

In addition there is a huge problem with the million dollar artist industry as it  is almost exclusively made up of white men making work that is fabricated instead of made by hand. But this is the ongoing issue in the art world in general.  I would love to see more women artists like the rare Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois joining the ranks of top-selling artists.  But sadly I will not hold my breath.

So wow that was a ramble. Hopefully somewhat coherent. But just a glimpse into my take on the million dollar art industry. Oh such a layered and complicated beast.

To be continued.

Until next time keep your needle threaded!

Joetta Maue is a full time artist primarily using photography and fibers. Her most recent work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the art and craft blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributes to Mr. X Stitch. Joetta lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, baby son, two cats, a goldfish.

All images belong to respective copyright holders.

I am so pleased to be working with the Textile Arts Center as part of our initiative at StyleSalt to support independent fashion artists and designers. Fiber art is the first step in wearable creations, and I couldn’t be happier with the shift from people looking for mass-produced pieces to wanting something special and unique–real statement-pieces that can be an extension of their personality and view of the world. It’s a push to individuality, and with the luxury market back in swing, customers don’t mind paying more to get it.
I have spent a large portion of my career working with designers, both emerging and established, as a fashion editor for magazines like ShapeNatural Health and Fit Pregnancy. Passion for creating something original is an attribute highly visible in this industry.
Now in my role for’s boutique , I am able to take on an even more hands-on role for artists, not just witnessing the journey, but also in helping. Our goal is to make apparel design a more accessible career for new talent, give designers a free place to sell their creations, free promotion, free blogging and an instant audience.
If you are interesting in becoming involved in StyleSalt’s boutique for emerging and independent designers, you can contact me at
I look forward to hearing from you!
Misty Huber

(from Eden Jewelry)

(from Kahri)

Join us and curator Scott Henstrand tonight for an Artist Talk on the current exhibition missing/Missed.

Textile Arts Center, 505 Carroll Street (btwn 3rd + 4th ave), January 24, 7PM

The following artists will be sharing about their work:

Regina Agu

Audrey Anastasi

Julia Elsas

Pat Hickman

Sara Jones

Mary Lippin

Jill Magi

John Paul Morabito

Maria Scarpini

Ed Schexnayder

Leonie Wunderlich.

Visit the missing/Missed website for more information on each artist!

… because IT’S FRIDAY!

And although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the brake is near for us at TAC, since weekend equals classes happening, I always feel more relaxed (and lazier) when Friday comes.

For that reason, today’s post is nothing but eye candy and eye candy only. This week,  I walked by Nespresso store in Soho and was psyched with their window display.

Sequins + more sequins + bright and wonderland-ish colors + quilting? Got me!

The window displays are part of a collaboration that brought together Indian avant-gard designer Manish Arora and Nespresso. The store’s windows in Soho are covered with sequined and appliqué quilts, and animated little figures (that used coffee capsules in their construction), representing several of New York most emblematic buildings.

It’s been interesting to see so many brands (even not fashion related) having textile-y windows and marketing campaigns lately. Is it fiber art finally getting a well-deserved “sunny place” in the more mainstream world? Let’s hope that it will be more than a seasonal fashion.

Arora also created, inspired by Nespresso 16 different kinds of coffee, a fantastical fashion line, based on a fairy tale (that includes 16 princesses, daughters of Queen Nespresso). The clothes were made of uber-jeweled and sequined fabrics, but also included coffee capsules.

Manish Arora’s Nespresso Princesses

(photos courtesy of

Arora’s creations can be seen also in Nespresso stores in Paris, Sydney, Munich, Barcelona, Sao Paolo, Beijing, as well as Morocco, Greece, the Middle East, Japan and  South Africa till January 2011.



Some days ago, after attending the opening party for the Missing/Missed show, curated by Scott Henstrand my friend and art blogger Lauren Palmor told me about Ghada Amer work. Sara Jone’s work, on view in the exhibition, was the reason that made Lauren think about Amer. And you’ll understand why.

Sara Jones, You Are Now a Strange Here, acrylic and thread on canvas, 2010

(photo courtesty of Sara Jones)

Lauren told me that I really needed to check her work and the video of the talk she gave at ArtTalks, organized by the American Federation of Arts. “You have to see it”, and when Lauren says this she means. And now I want all you to see it too.

Ghada Amer is an american contemporary artist,  born in Egypt,  educated in France and now lives and works in New York City. Her most recognized and characteristic work are her abstract painted and embroidered canvases, often with erotic motifs. However, Ghada Amer is a very versatile multimedia artist and has worked also with sculpture, photography, video, installation and performance.

Ghada Amer (American, born Egypt, 1963). Red Diagonales, 2000. Acrylic, embroidery, and gel medium on canvas. © Ghada Amer, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Private collection

Ghada Amer, The Woman who failed to be Shehrazade, 2008. Acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas.

(photo courtesy of Cheim & Read Gallery)

She has been specially interested in exploring and addressing themes like the “submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty”. (in Brooklyn Museum website) Other themes included the ” Western (mis)perceptions of Middle Eastern culture”, world politics and, recently, she has been working on antiwar pieces. (ArtTalks PR and Brooklyn Museum)

Ghada Amer,  Barbie Loves Ken, Ken Loves Barbie, 1995/2002. Embroidery on cotton. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

In 1991, Amer decided to replace the pencil/brush by the embroidery needle, so she could talk about women and women contemporary issues and problems, through a medium that have always been associated with women’s craft.

“I was always attracted to deal with the subject but I never dared, really, to do it (..) Then I had to, in a way, because I was looking for a way to paint with embroidery. I was depicting women doing domestic activities and the embroidery itself was a domestic activity. I needed to find imagery that would really challenge the embroidery as a medium and contradict it.”

(in TheDailyBeast)

On her talk at ArtTalks, Ghada Amer talks more about her choice for embroidery and her work (start at minute 13, to jump to the embroidery section).

Ghada Amer’s  work has been shown in the USA and internationally in several museums and galleries, including the Whitney Biennal, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Tel-Aviv Art Museum. She is currently represented by the Cheim & Read Gallery in New York.

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)

For almost a year I’ve been living and working in Brooklyn. And even if I adore Brooklyn I often find myself missing the Manhattan-Brooklyn commute. And wandering in Manhattan after work. That’s why each time I have to go to the city to buy supplies for our classes, it really feels like a treat! And I feel that in each of my little “field trips” I end up coming across something new.

Last weeks find was the project that brought together Pratt students, Ralph Pucci and paper.. lots of paper. On the windows of Macy’s, gorgeous and delicate sculptural paper cut dresses were side by side with also gorgeous and luxurious fashion creations (by Pucci?). This might be old news for some of you, but I really feel that amazing work like this can’t have too much coverage.

Pratt + Paper & Ralph Pucci project displayed at Macy’s


The project consisted of an interdisciplinary, semester-long study in texture and form to dress Pucci’s Spring 2011 “GIRL 2” mannequins entirely in paper, from only a white palette. As a result of this study, 20 paper sculpture designs were created by fashion design, fine arts, industrial design, and interior design students from Pratt’s School of Art and Design. The paper for the “Pratt + Paper + Ralph Pucci” project was generously donated by Borden & Riley Company, Inc., and Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc.

The sculpture designs were exhibited at Ralph Pucci International/Gallery Nine Showroom and the top three works were selected by a panel of distinguished judges (including Linda Fargo, Vice President of Fashion, Bergdorf Goodman; Nicole Fischelis, Vice President of Fashion, Macy’s; Greg Mills, Founder of Greg Mills Showroom; Jens Risom, furniture designer; Ken Smart, Creative Director at Ralph Pucci International; Anna Sui, fashion designer; Deborah Turbeville, photographer; and Vicente Wolf, interior designer).

All the winning looks  were designed by undergraduate students:  Dana Otto was awarded first place; Meredith Lyon and Beatrice Weiland, juniors in the Department of Fashion Design won second place; and graduate interior design student Tom Forsyth won third place. Su Ting Chen and Samantha Johnson (Interior Design ’11 from Maspbeth, N.Y. and Pullman, Wash., respectively) received top prize for their show-stopping sculpture design that hung from the ceiling of the Gallery Nine Showroom.

View of the showroom with Pucci’s Spring 2011 GIRL 2 mannequins and hanging paper sculptures by Su Ting Chen (Interior Design ’11) and Samantha Johnson (Interior Design ’11), first place winners for sculpture

(photo courtesy of

Detail of paper dress by third place winner Thom Forsyth

(photos courtesy of

Paper dress by second place Meredith Lyon and Beatrice Weiland and hanging paper sculptures by Su Ting Chen and Samantha Johnson

Paper dress by first place winner Dana Otto (Industrial Design ’11)

Congratulations to the winners for the amazing work! However,  looking to the rest of the designs, one has to agree with what Pucci recounted overhearing form the Juri: ‘It’s not fair, they’re all so good’.(via

I’ll leave you with some more works…

(photos courtesy of )

(photo courtesy of Mieke ten Have)



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.