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Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles at TM
Dec '10
The Textile Museum (TM) launches a year-long exploration of the ties between textiles and environmentalism with the opening of two new exhibitions in 2011. Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles (February 4, 2011 – January 8, 2012) presents ingenious examples of repurposed textiles from around the world.

These historic examples complement the major spring exhibition, Green: the Color and the Cause (April 16 -September 11, 2011). Today the word “green” is as likely to refer to eco-consciousness as the color itself. Playing with green's symbolism and often incorporating recycled materials, artists from around the world are responding to the environment. Green will showcase the art of these contemporary makers, presenting their work alongside historical precedents from the museum's collection.

Second Lives: The Age-Old Art Of Recycling Textiles
February 4, 2011 – January 8, 2012

Long before vintage fashion boutiques were in vogue, artisans found ways to repurpose precious handmade textiles. Throughout history and across cultures, textiles were so valuable that worn and threadbare fabrics were seldom simply discarded.

Second Lives features 18 objects from The Textile Museum's permanent collection that illustrate the different forms repurposing textiles has taken around the world. Objects on view date from the 16th through the 20th centuries and include patchwork hangings from Uzbekistan, India and Iran, textiles woven with recycled fiber from Japan and the American Southwest, and garments constructed from discarded religious textiles from the Pacific Northwest coast and Turkey. Each object embodies layers of meaning and social significance.

Luxurious garments communicate wealth and status, and when they can no longer be worn, cultures have found ways to reuse them. A panel from a Qing dynasty (1644-1912) Chinese dragon robe, a prestigious garment requiring two to three years of labor to complete, is included in this exhibition as a wall hanging.

While some textiles are valued for the labor involved, others are valued for the stories they tell. Two finely woven velvet panels from 16th-century Persia found their way to Ottoman Turkey, where Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1494-1566) used them to embellish his tent. Taken from Turkey to Poland in the 17th century, they were incorporated into a noble family's sled blanket, used until the 1920s.

Second Lives: the Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles is organized by Lee Talbot, Associate Curator, Eastern Hemisphere Collections.

Green: The Color and The Cause
April 16 – September 11, 2011

Green: the Color and the Cause will feature original contemporary works by 32 international fiber artists, ranging from stitched canvas to sculpture. These works are presented in conjunction with 13 historical pieces from The Textile Museum's permanent collection that explore how cultures across the world have captured and interpreted the color green through textile art.

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