Archives for posts with tag: quilting

Last Monday TAC took a rest and celebrated President’s Day – which for me pretty much ended up being the day that I finally did all my laundry, cleaned my room, and faced the world as a grown-up woman. The bright and shiny moment of the day was the quick stop that my roommate and I did at a pop-up gallery space in 147 Franklin Street, in Greenpoint.

The gallery is hosting the 600/3×9 project, which consists of 3 different exhibitions, by 3 different curators, featuring an x amount of artists, and all this happening in a 600 sq feet space, during only 9 days (each show is up for only 2 days!). The three emerging curators, Jiyoun Lee-Lodge, Ati Egas, Renee Bovenzi were selected amongst a group of 12, by the curators of the IN RiVERS gallery.

Hannah and I catch the end of the first show, Hybrid Lifeforms,  curated by Jiyoun Lee-Lodge, and I fell in love with the work of Aidan Sofia Earle.

Sorting, dyed fabric and thread on paper, 2010

Aidan Sofia Earle studied painting but has “always been drawn to fiber arts” and her work brings together painting, embroidery, fabric applique and found objects. The result are beautiful and detailed compositions, that ask you to take a closer look and spend time discovering. One of my favorites is “At Nostrand”, which had kind of  a finding-a-treasure-box effect in me.

Small Pile, watercolor, thread and fabric on paper, 2009

At Nostrand, found objects, mixed media, 2010

About her work, Aidan Sofia Earle says:

“Man made objects accumulate in many ways. Things are collated and stacked, piled and flushed, bundled and lined-up. We have numerous approaches to organizing our belongings and our waste. Even the forces of nature come into play in the way objects are accumulated. The gyres of trash in the oceans, the accretion of items on shorelines, these discarded items, small and large, have transformed landscapes.

From the streets of my environment I gather and accumulate discarded items. As a magpie chooses its treasure I collect the left behind objects of daily life. Physically stitching the objects together I think of the accumulation as story quilts, each item carrying its perceived history while becoming part of a new whole.”

The Collection, wood, metal, dyed fabric, thread, 2008

Aidan worked as a fashion textile dyer and painter, puppet and prop designer builder, carpenter and artists assistant, experiences that allowed her to have contact with a wide range of materials and techniques, which is reflected in her work. She still hand-dyes the fabric and the thread used in her artwork.

Untitled, collage watercolor, thread, pencil on paper, 2008

Aidan Sofia Earle is currently an MFA candidate at the Brooklyn College.  She has exhibited with Sharon Arts Center, NH, Chase Gallery and Bates College Gallery, ME, Target Gallery, VA and had several residency fellowships, including Vermont Studio Center 2009, CAC Woodside 2010. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

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.

In his latest book, “At Home”, Bill Bryson has dedicated a whole, enormously entertaining and informative chapter to the dressing room. Through the recounting of the history of this room, Bryson discusses some of the most decidedly exotic fashion trends of the Victorian era and earlier.

In his lively and engaging way, Bryson suggests that, “it can seem as if the whole impulse of fashion has been to look maximally ridiculous. If one could be maximally uncomfortable as well, the triumph was all the greater.”

Because it is impossible to paraphrase Bryson in a way that is more witty or lovely, I will simply include an excerpt of this chapter starting with the discussion on the surprisingly irrational trend of male wig-wearing starting in the 1660’s that lasted for 150 years.

“Wigs might be made of almost anything- human hair, horsehair, cotton thread, goat hair, silk. One maker advertised a model made of fine wire. They came in many styles- bag, bob, campaign, grizzle, Ramillies, cauliflower, brown tie, riding bob, and more, all denoting some crucial difference in length of braid or bounciness of curl. Wigs were so valuable – a full one could cost 50 pounds – that they were left in wills. The more substantial the wig, the higher up the social echalon one stood- one became literally a bigwig. Wigs were also one of the first things snatched by robbers.

All wigs tended to be scratchy, uncomfortable, and hot, particularly in summer. To make them more bearable, many men shaved their heads, so we should be surprised to see many famous seventeenth- and eighteenth- century figures as their wives saw them first thing in the morning. It was an odd situation. For a century and a half, men got rid of their own hair which was perfectly comfortable, and instead covered their heads with something foreign and uncomfortable. Very often it was actually their own hair made into a wig. People who couldn’t afford wigs tried to make their own hair look like a wig”

This all sounds particularly funny because the victims of the fashion trend are men like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, men who built the social and legal structure of this country. Men of gravity and importance who it seems, made time to fret about the beauty and trendiness of their hair. The susceptibility to follow an irrational trend makes them seem almost too human. It’s rattling to think that the founding fathers’ judgment is not beyond reproach, at least where hairstyle is concerned.

Although this sensitivity to the fashion of the times seems like a weakness, upon deeper consideration it shows a kind of personal commitment to social and cultural cohesion that is necessary to form a united whole, or social unit, like a country. After all, fashion trends often carry in them a political statement, and are by nature faithfully democratic.

Tonight, a very very awesome class is starting.

Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab will teach our Basic Quilting class, helping students to build their own personal maps! I wanted to highlight this class today, because I think Emily’s story is particularly inspiring. And because I want to make my bed a cloud of Soft Maps.


Emily’s background is in architecture. After working in several acronym-friendly NYC firms, and the economy hitting the architecture field so hard, she decided to break out on her own. While continuing to invest in “developing a professional career as an architect while maintaining connections to academic research, artistic practice, and spreading awesome”, Emily made her first Soft Map. She posted some pictures, and before she knew it quite a few of the big design blogs caught on.

A little about the quilts:

“Soft-Maps (c) are quilted maps of cities and neighborhoods that represent someone’s unique place in the world. Wrap your children in them, have a picnic, pull them close during the next Nor’easter. As a keepsake, a Soft-Map serves as an intimate reminder of home: where you’re from and where you belong. In a world that is increasingly digitized and remote, a quilted Soft-Map provides an expressive way to reconnect with your surroundings.

Not only beautiful, these blankets can be used as a mnemonic tool. As your child grows up with a Soft Map, they learn to read their neighborhood and its landmarks in a tactile, easily remembered way.”

When I first met Emily, I was taken aback by her story and success — a great example of someone who took their creativity in a time of hardship and turned it into something really positive. Her work is not only beautiful for the home, practical, and just the right amount of nostalgia, but she really takes design to a new level in her other work. I’ve not yet seen and of her architecture work, but the kites she did for the Knoll showroom and Opening Ceremony (Jason Schwartzman!) are fantastic.



Though she’s busy and super-popular we are thrilled to have Emily join us Textile Arts Center! Check back here for updates on what students are making.

All photos and quoted information courtesy of http://www.hapticlab.com

Wikipedia says:

Clothing and textiles have been enormously important throughout human history—so have their materials, production tools and techniques, cultural influences, and social significance.

Textiles, defined as felt or spun fibers made into yarn and subsequently netted, looped, knit or woven to make fabrics, appeared in the Middle East during the late stone age. From ancient times to the present day, methods of textile production have continually evolved, and the choices of textiles available have influenced how people carried their possessions, clothed themselves, and decorated their surroundings.

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Historically, textiles began as any other means of expressing stories and present experiences. Today, we see textiles as a way of expressing our personalities, of reserving a place in history specifically for ourselves.  Not really much different from what has happened for centuries, so our perceptions of its techniques should not be so different.  This is where you would be wrong. Now-a-days we are not so concerned with how our products are made, just that we have them and as many of them as possible.  We have lost the joys that a process brings, and that is what textile artists, slow fashion, and centers are bringing back.

The techniques have changed significantly, but the ideals remain the same.

Weaving

Dyeing

Screen Printing

Felting

Knitting

And these are just a few examples.  There is still quilting, crocheting, lace making, sewing, macrame, batik, tie dyeing, cross stitching, embroidery, not to mention the possibilities of combining all of these techniques.

What my anger issue is about is that such a small group of people really appreciate the work that goes into a hand-crafted textile.  It is such a shame that everyone does not have appreciation for something that is a part of their everyday life.

This is what the Textile Arts Center is helping to rectify.  By educating we can help the public gain more smarts, appreciation, and overall experience in a field that affects their lives immensely.

Happy Grand Opening, and I promise that next week we get back to our regularly scheduled program!