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.
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, 2016 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:
We are looking forward to installing our show in Louisville next week and meeting the community there.
Jewish Community Center, Louisville, Kentucky
February 21-March 29, 2016
Opening reception, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2-4pm
This exhibition features recent naturally dyed ikat weavings by Wendy Weiss and accompanying photographs of ikat artisans at work in India and historic looms and factory buildings in Łodź, Poland by Jay Kreimer. The exhibition also highlights five silk weavings by artisans in a rural community in the Surendranagar District of Gujarat, where Weiss worked as a Fulbright Nehru senior research scholar from October 2014 to July 2015, training the weavers in digital design. Ikat is a method of dyeing warp and/or weft yarns, using binding of selected areas of the threads to resist dye the yarns in a patterned way, prior to placing them on the loom to weave. Ms. Weiss has been developing a method to create pattern in ikat using the traditional Gujarati system for preparing the warp yarn.
In August of 2014 she taught an ikat workshop at the Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts Łodź, Poland which inspired a group of weavings about the “Litzmannstadt Getto,” in Łodź. One of these weavings will be exhibited at the 15th International Triennale of Textiles in Łodź in 2016.