Textile Arts


The craft of designing or creating textiles—materials composed of a web of natural or artificial fibers-—spans global cultures and represents one of the earliest human technologies. Techniques for producing them include weaving, crocheting, knitting, felting, pleating and looping, resulting in an extraordinary range of materials (cotton, linen, silk, wool, etc.). Textiles have long served various purposes, including the decorative, for instance in tapestries and rugs. The 230 ft. long Bayeux Tapestry (1070-1080 AD), for example, serves as an important historical document in the telling of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 AD. In the 20th century, as with many other mediums, artists began to use textiles in new contexts as well as explore the social and conceptual implications of their usage. Sophie Taeuber-Arp as well as Anni Albers and her student Sheila Hicks designed and produced textiles to further the period’s exploration of abstraction and develop a medium typically associated with the domestic sphere and “feminine” work. Artists since, like Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Rosemarie Trockel, or Alighiero e Boetti, whose iconic “Mappa” series includes the embroidery work of Afghan craftswomen, have taken an interest in the textile arts to critique the split between “folk” and “high” art.