Date of this Version
In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000
The observation and interpretation of trends in the visual arts can contribute to a broadbased understanding of the political, economic, historical and cultural developments in a given region and time. This has been particularly true during the past ten years in the countries of East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union. Throughout thirty years of my association with Poland, I have observed and documented the effects of an actively evolving political, economic and ecological environment upon the Polish textile art movement.
In 1999 I returned to Poland on a five-month fellowship sponsored by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. My primary goal was to study the effects of the emergence of capitalism and the market economy upon three generations of textile artists and their work. Although not part of my original research plan, I also became involved in identifying and documenting the social, historical and political factors which were the initial catalysts in the development of this remarkable movement in the arts. I shall begin by identifying some of the elements essential to 20th century urban Polish cultural identity and I will examine the range of their impact upon the work of six contemporary Polish textile artists.