Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today's treat: A Textile Trip

The Metropolitan Museum has a new exhibit on South American Tunics and also was showing a couple of films for Women's History Month: a film about Indian Embroidery and a film about Quilts.

The Andean Tunic, 400 BCE–1800 CE

Featuring about thirty Andean tunics, the exhibition examines the form of the tunic, which held an important cultural place in Andean South America for centuries.

Some of these exquisite tunics were made of cotton from the plains near the Pacific and some of wool, from the llamas up in the Andes.

Through the Eye of a Needle: Stories from an Indian Desert (2005)

Directed by Charllotte Kwon, describes how a group of craftswomen from western India continue their tradition of embroidery.

This beautifully shot film was a pleasure to watch. I learned the history and process of the craft and the current successful cooperative these women are part of. What I wanted to learn more about, that the film did not address, was the art and the artists. The embroiderers were referred to as "artisans". Does that mean there was no innovation, only continuing the traditional patterns that their foremothers had always worked on?

Quilts in Women's Lives (1980)
Directed by Pat Ferrero, presents six quiltmakers from various backgrounds, who discuss their art and its meaning in their lives.

These women were unquestionably artists, creating their own designs and using the cloth as a form of expression.

One of the quilters made a good point. She was speaking about how we buy yard goods, cut them up and sew them back together. "Ridiculous," she called that process... and yet... humans are drawn to patterns, like mandalas.

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