Connecting Threads

ACE Blog

Connecting “Threads”

Did you all catch the premiere of Craft in America’s newest episode “Threads” last Friday? Through “Threads,” we were reminded why we support the American Craft Exposition (ACE).

Now in its fourth season of exploring America’s rich craft history, this award-winning documentary series looks at ways in which the needle arts have developed from the “functional” to the “meaningful” through interviews with nationally acclaimed artists working at the forefront of their media.

Featured on the show were acclaimed artists:

Faith Ringgold, who combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling to teach a new generation about her proud history of African-American masters across several mediums;

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Sonny’s Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1986, Courtesy of the Artist

Randall Darwall, a master colorist and weaver who aspires to make people think through his textiles;

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Darwall’s weavings, Jennifer Gerardi

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, who began as a child laborer and transformed into a master textile and installation worker who celebrates her and her family’s history as migrant, agricultural workers, consistently exploring the “shadow lines” that divide homes; and,

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Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Virgen de los Caminos, 1994

Terese Agnew, who paints and laboriously sews pieces including Portrait of a Textile Worker.

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Terese Agnew, Portrait of a Textile Worker, 2005

 

“Shadow lines” that divide nations, cities and even cultures start to disappear when pieces of art transform from the “functional” to the “meaningful.” Consider Agnew’s Portrait of a Textile Worker, a quilt that is comprised of thousands of clothing labels from major corporations, all stitched together to form a picture of a young woman tediously laboring away at a sewing machine, who is very likely making the same clothing for the same corporations from which the piece is stitched.

But there’s a second story that destroys the notion of “shadow lines” and its hidden underneath the portrait: Hundreds of individuals took the time to find an internationally-made piece of clothing in their closet and cut the label out to send to Agnew. The individuals who mailed in their contributions were comprised of labor organizations, students, retired and unemployed workers and acquaintances worldwide. It’s the way in which a piece moves from the “functional” to the “meaningful” that is most important, and this “hidden” story is that transformation since the piece literally broke boundaries and took on a life of its own by, essentially, being made by the hundreds of sympathetic individuals from across the world who sent in a label.

Artists at ACE strive for the same artistic integrity that we all saw in the latest episode of Craft in America. ACE artists explore culture, lands, boundaries, politics and so much more through their carefully, crafted pieces.

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