Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


I confess to living a life full of unexpected experiences trying to remove the bark from the tree of commercialism and finding the ever-fruitful world of contemporary textiles made by traditional artisans. This presentation is a series of confessions brought to light through fieldwork, teaching and working in India and Canada / there and here / two worlds made into one. We begin with the six images connected to confessions or thoughts to live by:

Always dream that something is possible. I confess that I can be very stubborn when it comes to realizing these dreams. When I first saw sujuni and khatwa I thought of the appliqué wall hangings of Inuit women from Baker Lake in Nunavut, Canada. Memories of childhood visits to TB hospitals in Edmonton and the wonderful dolls the Inuit women made to pass the time. And I wondered from the Santal community in India what it would be like for these women to meet those women. Through the magic of many people it happened in the very building we are standing in today. At Harbourfront Center in Toronto, the York Quay Gallery in the summer of 2004 was the exhibition “Images tell the Stories, Thread has a life of its’ own.

During twenty-five years of teaching in the West, I worked with everything from the practical elements of design, textile technology to material culture history. Since ‘reinvention’ in 2002 I have endeavored to practice meaning in life by working with narrative textiles that tell a meaningful story in real time. I am interested in cloth that reflects the skill of history in the excitement of the present. This is cloth that becomes a teller of tales and a keeper of the important ideas that keep cultures alive.