Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944, 2015

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.

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Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944. 2015. Photo by Jay Kreimer

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.

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detail view of Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944

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.

 

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Opening day of the 15th Triennial of Textiles

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:

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/Lodz/lodzghetto.html

http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Poland/LodzGhetto.html http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/lodz.html

They Gave Us Directions

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Indo-Egyptian Textile Framgent

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.

http://www.jameelcentre.ashmolean.org/collection/7/10236/10407

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

On The Wall  

L. Kent Wolgamott: Lux installation responds to life in India

L. KENT WOLGAMOTT Lincoln Journal Star Jun 11, 2016

Review of “They Gave us Directions”

additional photos in article

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Indo-Egyptian textile fragment, photo by Wendy Weiss

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detail of music cart, photo by Wendy Weiss

They Gave Us Directions

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Based on block printed tent hangings illustrated in Indian Block-Printed Textiles in Egypt: The Newberry Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Ruth Barnes, 1997.

They Gave Us Directions

Lux Art Center, Lincoln, NE

First Friday Reception: Friday, May 6, 2016 from 5-8 p.m.
View through June 24

Bri Murphy, gallery director of the Lux Art Center, sent out the message I have pasted below:

May is another month with two exciting exhibition openings you won’t want to miss. Wendy Weiss and Jay Kreimer have returned to Nebraska to bring us a slice of life in India. As recipients of multiple Fulbright awards, both artists have spent much of the past few years living and working in India as long term residents. This show is their response, complete with photography, sculpture, textiles, and auditory elements. The title, They Gave Us Directions, speaks to the exploratory nature of their experience. “…we were in search of one thing, as we asked for directions, we found another thing.”

Jay Kreimer is a sound artist, inventor, video artist and educator. He has performed a range of music professionally since 1979. One of Kreimer’s instruments, Tallboy, was a finalist in the international Guthman Musical Instrument Invention Competition in 2011. His music has been released in the US, Portugal and Canada, and distributed and reviewed internationally. Wendy Weiss is an independent artist and weaver. She is professor emerita of textile design in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in North America, Europe and Asia. She uses natural dyes she cultivates and collects locally. Their collaborative works have been shown in galleries and museums in New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Beijing and many other cities.

From Weiss and Kreimer, we can expect much more than a traditional art gallery experience. This time, when you walk into the LUX, you will be engulfed in the cacophony of the bustling streets of India. This exhibition exemplifies the unique capacity of art to transport the viewer to another place and culture, to see humanity from a different perspective, and perhaps to find new understanding and meaning.

Come to Convergence 2016 in Milwaukee!

I am happy to announce I will be teaching at Convergence in Milwaukee this year, the first week of August 2016. Visit the Handweavers Guild of America webpage for complete details: http://www.weavespindye.org/convergence
3W-M004 Mashru Scarf: Ikat in Indian Style with Natural Dye;

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, August 1-3, 2016, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Wind, bind, dye, and weave a cotton Ikat scarf inspired by the dazzling Mashru fabrics of India. Students will experience the magic of Ikat weaving on their own loom in this intense workshop where they will bind the warp with a resistdesign and dye it with natural dye on the first two days and weave a scarf on the third.

A 4–8 shaft loom with reed sizes of 8, 10, 12 or 15 and a warping board will be required. Materials Fee: $35. Level: Intermediate.

U-R036 Navigating the Graphic Potential of Pro-Weave for Repeat Design;
Thursday, August 4, 2016, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

A dazzling array of software is available to handweavers. Pro-Weave is an unusual choice because it allows the weaver to draw as a key part of the design process. In fact, the graphic potential is so great that the user can easily generate charts for other textile projects. This workshop explores how to use the graphic tools for repeat design and more.

A laptop with the free demo version of Pro-Weave installed will be required. Materials Fee: $6. Level: All.

S-FP076 Ikat Centers of India: Gujarat, Telengana, Odisha
Friday Afternoon, August 5, 2016, 2:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Wendy Weiss Explore the exciting world of contemporary Indian Ikat and draw your original design. In 2015 Wendy Weiss visited each area as part of her Fulbright-Nehru senior scholar research project and will show fabric samples from each Ikat region. Learn about her work introducing digital design techniques to a small group of artisans in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and her visit to the Patola House, home of the world’s only Ikat museum.

Materials Fee: $1.50. Level: All.