Social Textile Experiments

Social Textile Experiments

I organize public art events to highlight sustainable fashion and traditional fiber arts techniques and to bring this work to a wider audience. This allows me to interact with the general public and/or the incidental passerby, and to draw attention to fiber crafts that are typically performed in homes, factories, or studios out of the public view. I often organize this work in my husband’s handmade tiny portable studio, Range Studio, or in connection with local arts venues, galleries, or arts councils and supporters. This allows my Slow Fashion work to push the boundaries of traditional art as a social practice project, and allows for traditional fiber crafts to play a role in public art.

I was a featured artist as part of the Range Studio artist residency with the San Francisco Arts Commission in summer 2015. The studio was parked at the bustling downtown intersection of the financial district at Market and 1st Streets with live programming during lunch hours. I invited various Bay Area fiber artists to join me in this public art practice or what I call my “social textile experiments”. Each day I was joined by a different artist who offered a public demonstration highlighting her techniques. Artists included natural dyer, Kristine Vejar owner of A Verb for Keeping Warm; conceptual weaver, Meghan Shimek; printmaker and surface designer, Jen Hewett; dyer and fiber artist, Sasha Duerr founder of Permacouture Institute; and sheep farmer and Fibershed staff, Marie Hoff.

These residencies or public art projects are often an experiment in fusing public art, slow textiles, and social practice into a surprising environment. They’re an attempt to share slow fashion practices from farm to fashion–fiber farming to weaving, dyeing, printing, sewing, and mending. And to experience the juxtaposition of handcraft alongside the urban bustle or the rural agricultural landscape–both play a pivotal role in the fashion industry but are sometimes so removed from the consumer that we overlook the connection between fiber, farming, factories, handwork, and global economics. This work allows me to share these intersections, to remind folks of the importance of handwork in a sustainable economy, and to share my thoughts and findings on sustainable fashion. It also allows me to embrace Slow Textiles and to let them collide against public art and the environment.