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
Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you, a fish out of water. I'm not primarily a scholar of textiles, but simply a maker of them, a visual artist working in the medium of tapestry weaving. The Symposium theme, "Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints", is the perfect opportunity for me to point out that the rewarding time I have had studying Kashmir shawl weaving technique, was the result of a unique combination of interests, tapestry weaving and travel to India.
I've been surprised at how little cross-over interest there seems to be among textile artists, for textile history, as if being engaged in current artistic practice begins and ends with the person doing it. Subscribe, as I do, to several of the newsletters maintained by groups of textile artists, and you rarely see mention of scholarly studies on the one hand, or the local spinners-and-weavers guilds on the other, and no regular listings of their activities. Surely a missed opportunity I think, because each in our way, we are struggling to keep alive the same skills that are in danger of disappearance.
Personally, I'm not connected with any sort of academic institution, and, when I was, I took only the least number of art history classes I could get away with. After studying philosophy and English at university I drifted into various kinds of craft work, and ten years later I decided to go to art college to upgrade my general design and conceptual skills. Because I had most recently been working in leather, I gravitated toward the textiles department, but shied away from loom weaving, which seemed too pre-planned and mechanical.