On January 21, Sophie Monsibais, program director for the Japan America Society, Georgia, introduced TASA members to three different techniques of shibori, the traditional Japanese form of tie-dye. Sophie demonstrated ways of folding, twisting and wrapping cotton cloth before dying. Among the items participants dyed were shirts, tablecloths, baby onesies, scarves and dish towels.
On Sunday, November 14, Emory University Assistant Professor of Art History and Faculty Curator of the Art of the Americas, Michael C Carlos Museum, Megan O’Neil, led TASA member on a tour of the Each/Other exhibition.
Among the many exhibited pieces, the group experienced a drapery of hand-shaped, two-inch clay beads evoking a female image in remembrance of the more than 4000 missing and murdered indigenous women; several Skywalker/Skyscraper works including a tower of blankets tagged with family stories; a she-wolf image stitched over connecting tartan blankets, a reminder of the belief that animals are our first teachers; and a large, collaborative she wolf, its steel-frame covered by a pelt created from bandanas hand-stitched by volunteers around the country.
On Sunday, September 12, TASA members joined SEFAA members for a virtual program given by Virginia Postrel. Postrel–author of the book, The Fabric of Civilization, How Textiles Made the World–discussed some of the innovations in fiber, spinning, weaving, and dyeing that give us today’s textile abundance and have shaped civilization as we know it. Postrel discussed textile history from early Paleolithic times to the present and future—from the earliest plant fibers plucked from weeds to synthetic fabrics to computer chips in threads. She gave the history of a variety of dyes and the history of inventions that transformed a time and labor-consuming enterprise of creating cloth into an economical and rapid production of cloth.
On May 21, textile art dealer, writer and photographer Thomas Cole presented TASA’s early Summer 2021 program entitled “Textile Art, A conversation about Aesthetics.” Thomas explained how he judges the collectible qualities of weavings and textiles. He looks at textiles as art and judges the collectible quality of pieces through their use of color rather than by traditional assessments of provenance and “value.”
On March 19, Suzi Click, California wearable art fashion designer, presented “Textile Traditions Travelogue”–a program about the weavers, dyers and printers she had visited in Guatemala, Indonesia, Bhutan, India Uzbekistan and China. Suzi shared pictures of artisans engaged in their work and explained the techniques and materials used in making the textiles. She discussed the cultural context of the textiles–the ways in which they would be used and worn within each culture. Suzi showed pictures of her own wearable art creations that are like fabric collages: they mix luxurious embellished fabrics and trims collected from disparate cultural areas of the world.
On January 21, Macon, Georgia textile artist Wini McQueen presented a virtual program to TASA. The program covered her recent retrospective exhibition at the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences–an exhibition which honored the source material of Wini’s work: cotton. Most interesting were the stories Wini incorporated into her 3-D sculpture quilts in the shape and size of cotton bales that Wini calls “Hands,” referencing the slave hands that picked the cotton. Incorporated into the bales were written slave stories told to and collected by WPA workers in the 1930s. Wini also shared her experiences learning and working with textiles in West Africa.
Today, Wini’s work redefines the traditional art of quilt making by using modern textiles and techniques.
On September 18, 2020, Ashley Callahan, specialist in modern and contemporary American decorative arts and craft, presented a virtual program on the history and process of making chenille. Callahan who lives in Athens, GA, is the author of the definitive book on chenille: Southern Tufts: The Regional Origins and National Craze for Chenille Fashion, which received the Lilla M. Hawes Award from the Georgia Historical Society and was named one of ten “Books All Georgians Should Read” by the Georgia Center for the Book in 2016.
Callahan described how early twentieth century enterprising women hand-tufted candlewick bedspreads that sold through department stores and roadside businesses. She explained the Colonial Revival’s importance to the development of the craft, Georgia’s contributions to fashion history, and the influence of automobile culture. Callahan also discussed the mechanization of the craft and its evolution to chenille and eventually the carpet industry.
On July 22 Dr. Jessica Stephenson, associate professor of art history at Kennesaw State University and interim associate dean of COTA (College of the Arts) and previous curator of African Art at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, presented a program about the complex history of a pan-African textile commonly called African Wax Print.
Jessica traced its initial history in Europe by way of Asia to its subsequent embrace and development in Africa as a dress form infused with rich visual-verbal communication to its current embrace within global fashion arenas. She focused on examples of textiles she collected in Ghana, Nigeria and the Congo. Jessica provided spectacular pictures of different print designs and explained their meanings as well as the context in which each particular design might be worn.
On Saturday, February 1, 2020, Roger and Margaret Growe’s presented a multimedia program, introducing the GumCha weavers, shared examples of gumcha designs and discussed how we can help save this craft from disappearing as the cost of raw cotton increases. This program was presented in conjunction with the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. (selected Program images below)
For at least 2,500 years, artisan weavers from farming families in isolated communities of West Bengal (in a small northeastern section of Birbhum District, around the village of Kashimnagar, north of Kolkata near the Ganges River), India, have been producing an elegant and useful cotton cloth called a gumcha. Down through multiple generations, this simple 100% cotton cloth (usually 63”to 68”long and 25” to 28” wide) has been woven by hand on traditional looms to create one-of-a-kind pieces. In the rural agricultural communities, there are more than 3,000 farmer-weavers. Each weaving family has developed its own unique style. Today there are thousands of highly sophisticated, refined, and colorful patterns produced throughout the area. The gumcha is the original cotton scarf, towel, hat, skirt and “air conditioner.” It is a tool and a traditional gift. Made and sold locally, the gumcha can cost a working person his or her whole day’s wage.
The GumCha4Health Project was founded to bring this artisan craft to the USA. The project was developed as a partnership between two health-related nonprofit organizations, one in India and the other in the USA. The goal is simple: to triple the income of artisan weavers, provide a wider market for their craft, and support the public health programs that are being conducted in the rural villages of the area. https://gumcha4health.com/
TASA presented a spectacular exhibit of international textiles. The exhibition opened September 20 and continued through November 13. Works presented were collected by eleven TASA members in travels throughout the world. The show was well received.
A catalog of the exhibit is being prepared. It is TASA’s hope and intention that the exhibit will travel to other museums. Images from the exhibit are below.
On Tuesday, November 12, TASA member Anita Sahni presented TASA members a program on the Indian sari, one of the world’s oldest garment worn by women. The use of saris dates back to before 1800 BC. Saris contain about six yards of unstitched material and never really go out of fashion. Anita showed the group saris from her personal collection—including her wedding sari. She explained the various styles and materials of saris and talked about the Punjabi fusion dress she often wears, then demonstrated the way to wear a sari.
On April 10, Junco Sato Pollack and Eri Sato Woo assisted by
their friend Shiori-san presented an outstanding program on the art of kimono
dress. Against the backdrop of a
gorgeous wedding kimono, Junco-san, Eri-san and Shiori-san showed and described
the many steps of kimono dress beginning with the basic undergarments. Using volunteer models, Eri-san and Junco-san
showed different kimono styles, designs and fabrics as well as many different
ways of obi tying.
Additionally Eri-san professionally styled the hair for each
of the women models.
Shiori-san narrated the historic and cultural perspective
for each of the different kimonos presented.
Eri-san and Junco-san also brought many different new, vintage and antique Japanese textiles, kimonos, obis, undergarments, and accessories which they displayed on tables around the room.
TASA held its annual business meeting on Wednesday, February 13, at the home of Elizabeth Koets. Members discussed ideas for future programs and had the opportunity to share interesting textiles they had acquired during the past year. TASA member Durshi Zoberi brought beautiful Pakistani textiles to show and sell.