August 23, 2016

DC inspiration: Textile Museum (part 1)

One of the places I was most excited about visiting in Washington, D.C. is pretty much on no one else's must-see list. It is not a monument and although it is a museum I doubt it is all that famous. It was the Textile Museum on the campus of George Washington University. I have long loved fabric and pattern even before I started sewing and quilting. And now that I am a sewer and quilter, well, my interest is even higher.

I had a day to myself while my husband was working (the actual reason behind the trip!) and a stop here was my first destination of the day. I am just going to put it out there that I used a map and got myself there with very little problem. I was rather proud and if you knew my navigational history you would be proud of me too.

At any rate, when I visited they had two big exhibits. One was titled Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora. Diaspora is when people groups move, or are forced to move, from their homeland to somewhere else. A fitting theme for modern times but also one with huge historic connections, especially considering the impact of slavery on the formation of the United States. There was a huge range of experiences represented by the artists but of course all used textiles in their work. So very inspiring! I will share a few of my favorites.

Blood Line by Alice Beasley
Alice Beasley uses a train metaphor to explore her family's story and experience with slavery. The final train car incorporates images of her relatives and includes an image of herself, looking back over the history through the lens of her cell phone. The level of detail in the work is astounding. I am very curious about this style of illustrating using thread and fabric and have been following some artists on Instagram who are doing work. Ms. Beasley's website features a video on the creation of this particular piece. You can also see other examples of her beautiful work on her site.

Sky Prayers – Memory of Sky by Melody Money 
This piece was created in honor of the people of Tibet. It is quite sizable but the intricate, small details make it even more impressive. Tiny triangles of fabric, tiny hand-sewn beads, and even the quilting itself. Just breath-taking. Melody's website shows a full portfolio, including a whole series of Sky Prayers.

Implosion 4 by Beth Barron
This mandala is made entirely of found band-aids. The band-aids are a symbol of wounding and healing and the piece is about finding one's home within oneself after being lost. This falls into the category of strange, never-before-seen modern art that I always appreciate. And it certainly stretches my mind in terms of what can be stitched and sewn.

I am going to post part 2 of my Textile Museum experience tomorrow. This has already gotten quite long and there are a few more things I just can't resist sharing with you!

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