The exhibition centers on Indonesia and Laos, but takes up a question faced by nations around the world: How can long-inherited art forms be carried forward in meaningful ways by future generations? By pairing recent artworks with 17 treasures from the museum’s collections, “Out of Southeast Asia” asserts the beauty of these traditional textiles and demonstrates how contemporary makers help to preserve these art forms even as they interpret them in new and innovative ways.
“Out of Southeast Asia: Art that Sustains” is the final exhibition The Textile Museum will present in its historic S Street buildings as it prepares to reopen in 2014 as a cornerstone of the forthcoming George Washington University Museum. Beginning October 14, 2013, The Textile Museum Shop will be open Fridays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through December 31, 2013. Programs and special events will be offered throughout the transition; visit the museum’s online calendar for the most up-to-date schedule.
As The Textile Museum prepares to move to its new location, “Out of Southeast Asia: Art that Sustains” provides a fitting visual link between the past, present and future while demonstrating the continued relevance of traditional textiles. In addition to precious examples of handmade batik from Indonesia, the ethnic weaving of northeast Laos presents exotic new forms rarely seen in this country. “Out of Southeast Asia” extols how these textiles—both familiar and not—inspire today’s creations.
“Out of Southeast Asia: Art that Sustains” includes six hangings, scarves and upscale upholstery by artist Carol Cassidy. While her works employ traditional Lao motifs, Cassidy often increases their scale and uses a simple color palette, resulting in panels with a distinctly contemporary feel. The artist first visited Laos in 1989, while serving as an advisor to a United Nations weaving project. While there, Cassidy chose to stay and establish her own weaving enterprise with the mission to preserve local skills and techniques.In the following 20 years, Cassidy’s studio has grown into a professional, large-scale commercial business, while staying true to the designs and idiosyncrasies that define Laos’s weaving.
Lao Textiles, the enterprise Cassidy established in Vientiane in 1990, was awarded the Product Excellence Award by UNESCO in 2001. In 2002, Cassidy received the Preservation of Craft award from Aid to Artisans. Today, Cassidy’s studio produces artistic textiles and upscale upholstery used by designers in Paris, London and New York, and the success of her enterprise has resulted in a resurgence of local weaving.
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