Date of this Version
Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Port. Textile Society of America's 15th Biennial Symposium. Savannah. GA. October 19-23. 2016.
Tapestry Project was a 3+ year effort to plan, fund, design, create, and exhibit a 7’ x 14’ work of collaborative fiber art in a small rural community in Western Oklahoma. This project was remarkable for the ways it exhibited the historical concepts of colonization and globalization. From its inception, the project featured aspects of colonization, since the project’s formally trained founder envisioned herself sharing her knowledge and experience with interested but untrained local amateurs both for nobler purposes but also in order to help ensure her own tenure and promotion. While the “colonial oppressor” eventually succeeded in this quest, she did only after the “oppressed” demanded and grasped a degree of control of the project that the oppressor had not originally planned to give them. In addition to historical aspects of colonization, The Tapestry Project was marked by two different patterns of globalization that were surprises to all of the participants. First, while the early stages of the project attracted dozens of participants, and while a majority of these were local Western Oklahoma residents, the members began to thin as the project demanded more commitment. As the actual weaving got underway, there were seven members in the core group, only two had been raised in Oklahoma, and these had seen the world. Of the others, one was from Italy, one from China, one from Korea, and one from Minnesota, and one from Illinois. The other aspect of globalization in the project is perhaps more remarkable: as the project neared completion, the members began to search for comparable projects, and they found two that were similar in terms of patterns colonization and globalization, one in England and one in Canada.