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.