Be sure to check out Elana Herzog’s show, Into the Fray, at LMAKprojects February 19.
It will be up February 19 – March  27 with an artist talk March 6.

Herzog alters and manipulates found textiles, including bedspreads and rugs, by stapling, tearing and draping.  These fabrics are transformed into new surfaces, often resembling organic decay or growth on the gallery walls they inhabit.

(Photos courtesy of http://www.elanaherzog.com/art.html)

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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.

Last week I attended really interesting lecture at the Bard Graduate Center by Tristan Weddigen. The talk was entitled “The Warp and Weft of History: Raphael and Le Brun Reflecting on the Textile Medium” and explored the ways tapestries from early modern Europe expressed and reflected the early modern artists intentions, in the same way that painting and sculpture did.

The starting point of the talk was the fact that tapestries were amongst the most expensive and valued works of art on Europe during Renaissance, but that importance isn’t reflected in art theory, either from that time or today. Several examples of tapestries with cartoons from Raphael and Charles LeBrun were discussed, highlighting how tapestries were start mimicking reality, in such a detailed way as paintings. The first examples of a tapestry depicting water reflections, and perspective, and facial expressions come from the 16th century and it is really mesmerizing to think how that result was achieved by weaving with colorful threads.

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, part of the 10 tapestries series commissioned by     Leo X for the Sistine Chapel, cartoons by Raphael, 1519

However, what really got my attention was learning that it was around this time too that tapestries started depicting textiles, and clothing, and other tapestries in extreme detail. Take a look, for instance, in this tapestry commissioned by Louis XIV and made at Gobelins, following a cartoon of Charles LeBrun. This tapestry depicts Louis XIV visiting the Gobelins workshop in Paris, and you can see represented another tapestry in the background, draped brocade textiles and voluptuous clothing.

Louis XIV visiting the Gobelins Factory, cartoon by Charles LeBrun, 1673

Imagine the work involved on the creation of these tapestries and it’s not hard to understand why their were so valuable. Also, the fact that a tapestry workshop and the work-in-progress was represented in a tapestry (and the fact the Louis XIV commissioned this work and is represented in it) only reinforces how important tapestries were in the society.  Another good example are the early mentioned Sistine Chapel tapestries, commissioned by Leo X (with cartoons by Raphael), which costed at least 16,000 ducats, and that amount was around five times what Michelangelo was paid for the work in the ceiling. (More on the process of creating a tapestry from the cartoon in this video about the Raphael’s Sistine Tapestries)

What happened since then though? At what moment did we stop acknowledging the creativity, the mastership and all the work involved on the creation of fiber art? What made fiber art lose its status as art, and be sent to the complicated-to-define craft concept?

This lecture made me feel overwhelmed with knowledge (I didn’t even attempt to make a summary of it, knowing that I probably missed great part of the art theory discussion about tapestries and their role in the society and art at that time), but also made me feel that I need to study more, much more.

 

I am using part of my time while a resident artist at TAC this spring to explore the multitude of ways in which artists/designers/crafters use our processes of making textiles to engage in social change (part of my masters thesis at NYU). As I do so, I’ll also share some of what I am thinking about here on the TAC blog, discussing artists, events, projects, books, social movements, and resources.

Textiles and garments—through their production, circulation, consumption, and use— have played a central role in social change for centuries. I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you reading this that not unlike food, textiles are a consistent part of our lives: a fundamental human need and an important marker and driver of culture. The farms on which fibers are grown and the factories in which textiles and garments are produced have been sites of terrible abuses but also sites for important moments in the history of labor activism. This makes it a particularly rich place from which to ask questions about what is happening in the world today. If you have suggestions for anyone or anything you think I should look into, by all means send them my way! I value all of your comments and contributions.

Movie Nights:

While helping out at TAC’s mending circle this past Sunday, Owyn, Isa and I were contemplating organizing movie nights at TAC. So I thought for this first post I would share some of my favorite textile-related films that also offer a precursor to themes for future posts. Please do add your movie recommendations in the comments.

Daughters of the Dust, 1991

film still from Daughters of the Dust

A powerful film about the women of a family descended from slaves who worked on the plantations that grew indigo, cotton and rice. It takes place on the Sea Islands, where ships first dropped off slaves for quarantine before they were sold on the main land. In addition to a different view on an important part of textile history, the costumes themselves—the white dresses of the younger women and the deep indigo of the matriarch—are a striking part of the story telling.

Gabbeh, 1996

film still from "Gabbeh"

A Gabbeh is one kind of handwoven Persian rug, and in the film, Gabbeh is also the name of a young woman who mysteriously appears and becomes the protagonist in the film. The entire film is filled with images of the process of rug making, often used to tell part of the story of the human characters: collecting plants for dyeing, shearing goats, dyeing and spinning yarn, and weaving.

Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags, 2009

film still

A documentary on the history of the New York garment industry with a focus on its decline over the last 30 years in the context of global trade, the move of manufacturing overseas, and the continual search for cheaper labor.

Wool 100%, 1996

film still

A dream-like Japanese film of two junk-collecting women whose latest find are several balls of bright red wool. This acquisition also attracts a girl who spends the movie obsessively knitting a long sweater, then unraveling and re-knitting it again and again.

Gandhi, 1982

film still

Cloth played an integral role in India’s struggle for independence from Britain, something captured in great detail in this epic film, from the Indigo farmers who first tell Gandhi of their poverty to his promotion of Khadi cloth for both symbolic and economic reasons.

Norma Rae, 1979

film still

One of my favorite films about organizing, based on a true story, a single young mother and textile worker organizes a garment factory in Alabama.

Made in Dagenham. 2010

film still

I haven’t seen this yet but its getting great reviews and looks like an important comment on the classification of garment work as supposedly “unskilled.” Also based on a true story, this is about the 1968 strike of 187 sewing machinists that eventually led to the Equal Pay Act.

Craft in America, 2009

film still: Lucy Morgan at Penland School of Craft

Craft in America is a PBS series that covers much more than textile crafts and their first season is available to watch online. For those interested in fiber, I particularly love the first part of the third episode on quilting and community and about the creation of the Penland School in North Carolina.

* The title of this column is a play on “Bread and Roses,” a phrase taken from a poem and used to refer to the 1912 textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The call of women marchers, “We want bread, but we want roses too,” is said to be a call for dignity as well as fair wages, that life should be beautiful as well as just.

Not in  New York for fashion week? If you happen to be flying through Atlanta’s international airport be sure to check out Nancy Judd’s Recycle Runway fashions.  Judd brings new life to things that have outlived their original purpose and displays these intricate items in high traffic locations like shopping malls and airports.

Aluminum Drop Dress


Photos by Eric Swanson

 

Jacket made from old cassette tape

(Photo by Sandrine Hahn)

(And this is a cassette tape, kids.)

 

 

Rusty Nails

Transformed!

(Photos Courtesy of Nancy Judd)

 

 

 

(via unconsumption)

Most of all, we like to think of this day as a good excuse to stop our crazy lives and just spend time making something special for that special someone (or for the all the special someones) in our life.

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

Both Ikat Weaving and Natural Dyeing classes have kicked off.But don’t be sad if you missed these opportunities to get started on the art of dyeing. There is more! We still have spaces open on our Fiber Reactive Dyes Class in March.

Don’t get turned off by the name.. we’re not tricking you into a Chemistry 101 Class. Fiber reactive dyes (aka Procion dyes) are actually one of the simplest dyes available. They were developed in 50s, specially for cellulosic fibers (such as cotton, linen, hemp and rayon) but can be used also with wool, silk and nylon, just with a different twist on the procedure.

Whats makes these dyes so special? First they don’t need a fixative, mordant or to be set. The dye, as the name says, reacts directly with the fiber, forming a permanent bond, that is both wash and lightfast. The dyeing process can occur with lower temperatures (yes, no hot baths!) and it uses a minimal quantity of water, making them one of the most eco-friendly dyes available. They’re great for tie-dye, printing, batik, painting of fabric and the colors are bright, bright, bright.

Still not convinced?! Check the next amazing examples..

Hand dyed fabric with Procion dyes, by Vicky Welsh

Tie dyed top with Procion Dyes, by Shabd

Hand dyed with Procion dyes and snow dye technique, by DyeSmithy

Hand dyed cotton perle, by Sassa Lyne

At the Fiber Reactive Dye Class we’ll cover the principles of dyeing with Procion dyes and several techniques, such as tie-dye (but much more than your high school tie-dye), low immersion, painting, snow dye, resists, etc.. Or, in less words, you’ll acquire all the skills to become a real-deal dyer.

 

Last post I talked about my take on the million dollar art market and all of its many faceted complicated layers, so if you missed my post last time go check it out here. But today I will be focusing on the 2nd question posted to me:

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

In short, I think it is a shame. But I also do not think it is true either. I think the bigger issue is how media, literature, and old school professors romanticize the idea of the “artist” as the solitary figure, working like a mad man on their work, inspired by a flash of light. Being an artist in real life is NOT romantic, it is not easy, and I do not think any artist ever got shot with a flash of light-like inspiration.

Lauren DiCioccio

I think in general there is this “idea” that an artist chooses his or her art over life and that they essentially live, breathe, eat their art, that they are naturally blessed with their talent and success like magic, and they do not care if they make money, eat food, or have a nice apt.- and to me that is bull.  I actually have a friend who was quite talented whom gave up on his path as a writer because he could not fulfill the romantic idea of the writer. Though in truth he could write very well.

John Singer Sargent

I feel that this over romanticized idea of the artist perpetuates the “Mona Lisa” famous myth.  In other words it encourages this idea that you are nothing as an artist unless you are a bonified celebrity with your art.  I find this entire idea completely ridiculous as many of the most well-known artists of the past were never truly recognized for their art until they were dead, but yet they kept painting or sculpting or creating and kept getting by even thought during their lifetime they were never famous.

The celebrity artist truly began with Andy Warhol and has rolled like a snowball getting bigger and bigger. But to me it simply does not matter.  In the end the artist get’s to decide what “success” is not any one else.  To me the best art is made by artists whom are motivated by their passion and their intention rather than if they are in a “successful” gallery or not, or how much their work is selling for.  They make art because they are artists.

Cai Guo Quiang at the Guggenheim

To me the pressure in academia and media to become the next “big thing” perpetuates the over blown art prices and the shoddy work that is selling for those prices. Academia simply wants a “big” name they can spout out to alumni and prospective students, galleries want to drive prices up for their own pocket books (though only very few galleries make much money) and the artist’s have the choice to buy into it and only feel successful when they model for a Fashion Designer or have a show at the Guggenheim. But to me this is the artist’s fault for believing the myth.

Tracey Emin modeling for Vivienne Westwood.

The reality is that the true success of an artist is they keep making, they keep sharing, they keep telling their story, and hopefully they keep their integrity too.  Yes, we all want to make a good living off our art, and sure I would love to be represented by a blue chip gallery and never have to worry about how I am going to pay for my studio again. But to me this is a sign of financial success and there are many other forms of success that are more important to me. Showing up to my work everyday is success.

Adam Brouilette successful Ohio Artist that I love.

There are thousands of artists in this country that most of us have never heard of that support themselves with their work, they are successful regardless of the fact that no one has written about them in Variety or maybe they have never even been to New York.

Studio Painting by Andrew Lenaghan

To me success is a sticky word. And I prefer to stay unstuck. My life philosophy is imagine what you want to wake up and do everyday.  If you do that thing, even if for just an hour, than you are living a successful life. Even if you do not have the money to buy a Gucci bag.

So I say screw the myth and just make your art.

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.

Hi, my name is Kim and when I am not crunching numbers away in my cubical I am secretly looking at fashion, design, and home improvement websites.  In all this time I have built up a little library I am excited to share with the ladies of the Textile Arts Center and all you loyal textile fans out there.  My entries will center around forward-thinking design which infultrates every part of our lives.  Isn’t it wonderful?

I was watching the Superbowl (only made it through the half-time show) wen Fergie’s outfit caught my attention.  It reminded me of a Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen whose 2011 designs defy all my pre-conceptions of clothing.

Let’s face it: curvy clothing is back.  We were given these bodies, why not accentuate the best parts of us…in futuristic wear.