Friday, September 28, 2012

Textile Society of America Symposium

Last week I attended the Textile society of America’s biennial symposium in Washington, D.C.  I have enjoyed membership in the society for many years.  For anyone not familiar with TSA let me briefly explain.  The Textile Society of  America is a nonprofit organization, established in 1987, with over 700 members in 36 countries.  The membership includes anthropologists and archeologists, museum curators, textile historians and teachers, designers and textile makers, as well as collectors of textile and dealers.  Besides the wonderful biennial conference some other benefits of membership include workshops and study tours, an online newsletter, an extensive bibliography of textile publications co-published with the University of Minnesota and a membership directory.  There is also a website which is right now being expanded and will be up this month.  The TSA’s mission “ is to provide an international forum for the exchange and dissemination of information about textiles worldwide, from artistic, cultural, economic, historic, political, social and technical perspectives”. (Elena Phillips, President, TSA)  That is quite the statement but, actually, it is because of this wide range of involvement that brings together so many disciplines, giving everyone interested in textiles an opportunity for interaction and learning.

The Symposium was the 13th conference of the society and included more than 450 members plus visiting lecturers.  There were site tours of various museums and textile collections (I attended a private tour, there were only 12 of us, of the Natural History Museum Support Center, for a behind-the scene look at the extensive collection of the anthropology department.  Join me next week for my adventure.)  There were 15 different tours offered and I wish I could have attended them all but unfortunately all tours were the same afternoon, so much to learn, so little time. There was a private tour by the Textile Museum of their new exhibition ( again, another blog) and there were 3 sessions per day, 3 days, of 6 concurrent sessions each with 3-5 speakers per session from which one could chose to attend.  That adds up to more than 112 mini lectures on every textile topic one could imagine.  Again the choice was often difficult as everything in the lecturer’s abstracts sounded intriguing.  If this was not overkill enough, there is also included in each symposium additional tours that take place before and after the official conference.

Now comes the fun part, and that is shopping.  A market place of textile vendors included a fabulous selection of clothing, vintage and ethnic pieces, jewelry and accessories.

 If any member has not participated in a symposium, I would strongly urge you to consider attending.  The location for 2014 is Los Angeles.  And any textile scholar, designer, or textile lover and collector that is not a member should visit the website for more information.

Or contact: Textile society of America
P.O. Box 193
Middleton, DE 19709

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