This exhibition will examine a wide range of artistic expression through various media, such as dyeing, painting, weaving, stitching, printing, laser etching, heat transfer and vacuum coating of metal onto fabric.
In their work the artists reflect personal emotion, social and environmental awareness, cultural values, and technological innovation. What unifies them in their creative endeavor is enthusiasm for the tactile and dimensional possibilities inherent in cloth and fascination with the idea that cloth holds the memory of its use or the action performed on it.
Cloth can be given volume. One can animate it: drape, crumple, and fold it; compress, pleat, and tuck it; stain, paint, and dye it; bunt it and cut it; tear, sew, and embellish it; appliqué, quilt and fabricate it. Cloth expands and contracts. It can record gestures, occasions, and ownership.
Cloth transcends its origins from the wool of an animal, the fiber of a plant, or of alchemy on coal. The agent of transformation is the artist, who senses the life inherent in the material and actualizes it through the application of human touch, knowledge, and vision, thus revealing the memory embedded in it.
After being made or acquired, a piece of cloth soon becomes as familiar as the air we breathe. Throughout life, cloth is our second skin. Its meanings change as we move through various phases and associate ourselves with what surrounds us.
Through textiles we learn our ancestral patterns of life: making twine was one of the first technologies humans achieved. Twisting fibers using S and Z twists, combining two opposing forces, we learned to fashion twine and rope that became weapons, bags, traps, nets, fastening for clothes, shoes and tents.
Eventually we produced yarns and wove cloth with them. This instinctive ingenious human activity has arisen spontaneously in many different cultures and resulted in a wide range of techniques, skills and patterns that are vehicles for ethnic identities and beliefs and the means to adorn ourselves and others.
Textile objects open a window onto the daily life experience of those who created them. Each object reveals the perspectives of all those involved in its genesis and transformation. Our world today has changed dramatically from the distant past when neither money nor time was spared to create incredibly beautiful and precious textiles.
In our time of amazing technological developments and an increasingly pervasive information network, contemporary artists and artisans are tapping into ancient knowledge and skills and revitalizing our shared cultural heritage — applying perseverance and innovation to create opulent, and sometimes provocative, textiles in the name of art.
Jim Thompson Art Center
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