Posted on Leave a comment

Woven Histories—Textiles and Modern Abstraction

Every now and then there is an exhibit that really speaks to one’s current interests. This exhibit Woven Histories, currently at the National Gallery of Art on the Washington DC mall, was such an experience for Rae. A very informed art history buff and friend recommended the exhibit, knowing how much I love textiles and mixing them together. Because a trip to DC for the Memorial Day week was on my schedule, I made time to visit.  It was such a treat and today I will share with you some of the highlights.

Twisted threads and blocks. This piece is on the cover of the exhibit’s catalog.

The exhibit looks at the last 100 years of weaving and other textile arts as they moved toward abstraction. The exhibition begins with a variety of works from a number of craft workshops in the post-WWI era. I was very drawn to the works of Annie Albers, a member of the Bauhaus weaving workshop, who moved to the southern United States when the Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933. Her works are featured in the first 3 rooms, along with her contemporary’s, who were moving weaving techniques toward more abstract representation. In a couple of places there are both sketches of ideas and then examples of how the  ideas were used in her work.

The exhibit looks at the grid of lines which offers a base for design exploration. A variety of materials are shown creating interesting grids that are embellished including webbing, twine, plastic, and bark. 

Painted cotton webbing and beaded accents.

There were several pieces where the weaving design is based on electronic components such as computer chips.  They were so interesting and quite lovely in their abstraction.

Copper weaving of a computer chip.

Often the descriptions allude to a predecessor, the Jacquard Loom, which predates computer punch cards and the age-old traditions of the Native American weavers. Baskets, crochet, paintings, collage and a few garments rounded out a very interesting exhibit which I highly recommend, especially if you have any interest in moving your work in a more abstract direction.  

Native American rug making techniques create this “computer chip”.

The exhibit will be in DC until July 28. Then it moves on to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, November 8, 2024–March 2, 2025 and then to The Museum of Modern Art in New York, April 20–September 13, 2025.

Love this collage on a black and white grid.

There is an excellent catalog and a number of video interviews on the website.

We have posted a bit on social media about the current exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art featuring the work of Joyce Scott.  I could see how these early abstract experimentations could lead to the free flowing pieces by Ms. Scott, a Baltimore artistic treasure and a strong voice for social justice.

Joyce Scott crocheted dress.

Art has a way of changing the way you view the world; take time to support the art galleries in your area and allow art to expand your vision of what is possible. I’ve been writing about exhibits I’ve visited for a long time. Watch for a few more images this week on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

A scrap lace sleep mask.

Want to play with some abstract ideas?  Join me for a scrap lace workshop in Gaithersburg MD at Capitol Quilts this coming Saturday. There are still a few spaces and lots of experimental fun to be had!

Happy Creating! RAE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *