Robert Mertens wrote about his impressions of the Surface Design Association 40th Anniversary Conference, Making our Mark SDA at 40. He wrote he didn’t expect to see immaterial fiber arts that center on ephemerality. Read his full text at the SDA Blog.
Guest Editor 40th Anniversary Summer Issue
I was honored to be the guest editor of the summer issue and enjoyed developing content, working with the authors, staff, and editor Marci Rae McDade.
Your copy of the Summer Issue, Making our Mark: SDA at 40, is available with membership to the Surface Design Association, http://www.surfacedesign.org/
Angela Hennessy’s Untitled (floor mat) (detail) 2016, velcro dots, 42″ in diameter is featured on the front cover. Great articles and more excellent visuals inside.
Excavated Pattern, Oregon College of Arts and Crafts
At the Making our Mark conference in Portland, Oregon, August 3-6, 2017, I returned to a theme I have explored recently and installed 13 digitally cut vinyl patterns, my interpretation of Indian block-printed textiles found in Egypt. Ruth Barnes, as curator of the textile collection at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, undertook the task of cataloguing well over 1,000 textile artifacts from the Newberry Collection dating from the 12th to the 16th century. This exceptional collection and scholarly document is the foundation for this artwork. The fragments on average are typically under 15” in length and width, yet reveal complex patterns, captured through digital tools to reintroduce them to conference attendees.
Excellence In Fibers is on view until March 19, 2017 at New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! Four weavings are on exhibit. Fiber Art Now, a quarterly print and digital magazine, developed the exhibition.
will be part of the SHIFTING LANDSCAPES: 3rd International SDA Member Juried Exhibition.
Opening Friday February 24, 2017, 5:00–7:00 pm, on view through May 20, 2017.
at form & concept, 435 S. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM 87501.
Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska’s most hip alternative space presented “There’s Always an Apex Predator” featuring new work by Jay Kreimer and Wendy Weiss, September 2-29, 2016.
“There’s Always an Apex Predator” explores crocodiles, prisoners of war, the holocaust and more though painted wood sculptures, digitally cut vinyl wall installations, prints and a sound score by Jay Kreimer and Adam Zahller. The work in this collaborative exhibition is entirely new and is drawn from experiences in India, personal and world history, and current political events.
Kreimer’s father was a prisoner of war in World War ll. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge. Kreimer states his father was “marched and marched, lined up at a pit to be shot, was not shot, and ended at Stalag lXB, Bad Orb, Germany.” Weiss adds this was “the worst German prison camp from which, in 1945, Jewish prisoners and perceived troublemakers were sent to the Berga concentration camp, a slave labor camp that mixed American POWs with Holocaust victims in a work to death frenzy.” Eldon Kreimer spoke little about his time in Stalag lXB, but he did tell a story about dividing a packet of raisins from a Red Cross package between his fellow prisoners. Starving, as they all were, he held back three extra raisins for himself and ate them. Later he felt compelled to confess this transgression to his group. Three raisins.
Our interest in his experience paralleled what developed from a latent interest for me about the Holocaust and cruelties in Europe during World War ll. As a child, my father had been gripped with the significance Holocaust and the industrialized murder of European Jews. In 2014, unintentionally, we stayed on the site of the Łódź Ghetto in Poland, called the “Litzmannstadt Getto” because during the war the occupiers briefly renamed the city after a German general who invaded the city in WWI.
Other forms of predation entered our thoughts. Animals and insects in the service of men to torment—dogs and fleas—for example.
We lived for much of the past few years in Vadodara, Gujarat, a city of two million with the distinction of harboring the largest population of wild crocodiles in a city of that size in the world. They conclude, “so the crocodiles came to this party: Apex Predators.”
Thanks to Nebraska Innovation Studio, a makerspace/fab lab, on Nebraska Innovation Campus, where we use terrific equipment and workspace for the development of the vinyl portion and some of the wood working portions of the installation. Check it out! And much gratitude to Peggy and Nolan and the super helpers at Tugboat.
I have returned to the city of Lodz, Poland again and again. It is home to an extraordinary group of weavers and textile artists whose innovation and creativity inspire me. Its history haunts me.
I first visited Poland in 1992 and have had the privilege to return a number of times over the years. In the late 1990s I worked with Polish and American colleagues to develop an exhibition of contemporary Polish fiber art that toured the USA, called Different Voices: New Art from Poland. When I returned to Lodz after a hiatus of almost twenty years, the monuments and memorials to the victims of World War II struck me.
When I revisited Poland in 2014 to teach a workshop on ikat we stayed in the Baluty neighborhood of Lodz. This neighborhood was clearly demarcated in present day Lodz as the site of the Litzmannstadt Getto of 1940-1944, stenciled on curbs around the perimeter and marked with a granite marker. The Lodz Ghetto was the second largest Jewish ghetto in Poland. The Nazis changed the name of the city to Litzmannstadt in November 1939 after a German general who invaded the city in World War I.
This brief immersion in the Lodz Ghetto has propelled me to return to my research about World War II, this time examining the European causes and consequences. The ikat technique, my interest in text and image, and the desire to grapple with history in visual terms have come together.
The weaving, Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944, 2015 is the first in this group of works, a major undertaking in which I have been able to combine text and pattern using an innovation of the Indian method of preparing the threads for dyeing.
I explore the world through woven fabric, constructed thread by thread, infused with color from plant and mineral sources. Inherently a slow process, I wind lengths of thread to become warp yarns, secure them around a frame to bind the desired pattern, immerse them in mordant and dye solutions so they can achieve a specific color, remove the binding to free the threads so finally I can transfer them to the loom to weave a fabric, inserting the weft yarn, row by row.
The Litmannstadt Getto weaving is currently on view in the 15th International Triennial of Tapestry, at the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz, Poland as part of the American contingent. Judith Content, Susan Iverson, Jill Nordfors Clark, Kathy Weaver
To learn more about the history of the Lodz Ghetto you can find a number of on-line sites, including:
Original image posted in Indian Printed Textiles, a catalogue of the collection by Ruth Barnes. The entire collection is available to view courtesy of Eastern Art on-line at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.
Motif developed from a textile fragment with rosettes, arches, stylized trees or flowers, and leaves.
Date: 2nd half of the 13th century – 1st half of the 14th century
Material and technique: cotton, block-printed with resist, and dyed blue; with remains of stitching in flax
Original fragment size: 11 1/32” x 7 5/8”
Accession number: EA1990.161