Date of this Version
Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.
Whether one speaks of food, energy, or - as here - textiles, conversations on "sustainability", a term that has been used to describe a conflicting array of methods and materials, have been expanding. The food activist movement has coined the term, "local", equating high quality foodstuffs with small carbon footprint. This borrowed term in the textile world often refers to locally assembly from imported materials. Together, "local and sustainable" must refer to specific places. I use my farm as an example. 20 Years ago I began working with hand felted wool as an art medium. For six years farming and art making have been moving toward a soft collision in my life; Daily activities can be acts of artisanal farming and farmeric artistry. Currently 90% of the wool I use in my sculptural work originates with the sheep I raise. I relish this intimate involvement with my art supplies - physically, practically and conceptually. I have long examined cultural associations of fiber/textile media, practices, and techniques. Recently, I've been investigating issues of local and sustainable fibers/textiles from my ground up. I've also explored sustainable textiles worldwide, reading the literature and contacting numerous producers. The field changes constantly as "Sustainability" and "Localness" are hot topics, about which there are numerous opinions and from which many want to profit. I've drawn conclusions about textile production, consumption, and industry, which show me that finding more farmer's markets to carry locally grown yarn is not, by far, the only way forward to realizing local sustainable textiles.