Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Visit to The Fowler Museum of UCLA

Textile Society of America – The Fowler Museum

One of the benefits of a TSA Symposium includes visits to area galleries and museums.  Attendees were invited to the Fowler Museum of UCLA for 3 sessions featured in the current exhibitions with a cocktail reception following the lectures.

Events such as these give symposium attendees the opportunity to relax and enjoy food and drinks in a lovely setting and interact with textile enthusiasts from all over the world.

The Fowler Museum was established in 1963 as the Museum and Laboratories of Ethnic Arts and Technology.  In 1971 the name of the institution was changed to Museum of Cultural History.  A further name change came in 1992 (Fowler Museum of Cultural History) and in 2006 it finally became The Fowler Museum of UCLA and is ranked among the top 4 university museums in the US.

Since its inception, the Fowler has placed emphasis on works from Aftrica, Asia, the Pacific and Americas.

Admission to the museum is free.  For further information on the museum and current exhibitions contact

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Textile Society of America - 14th Biennial Symposium

Destination Los Angeles

I have just returned from Los Angeles having attended 5 days of the 14th symposium of the Textile Society of America.

The Textile Society was established in 1987 to provide “an international forum for the exchange and dissemination of textile knowledge from artistic, cultural, economic, historic, political, social and technical perspectives”. With over 700 members from countries all over the world, the society includes museum curators and conservators, textile designers and makers, historians and anyone interested in textiles. 

The biennial symposium features juried papers, day and weeklong programs and an opportunity to confer with other members and share knowledge and experiences.

This years proceedings were held in Los Angeles at the campus of UCLA and included many lectures, museum and collection visits and additional pre and post-symposium programs.  The theme for this year was New Directions: Examining the Past , Creating the Future and featured lectures ranging from pre-historic fibers to sustainability of resources in future textile production.

UCLA campus, what a glorious venue for a conference

In the next few weeks I will be discussing museum visits, exhibitions of contemporary textiles and lecture subjects.

For more information about the Textile Society of America, its membership benefits and programs, please visit

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Textile Society of America Symposium, 2014

This week I am attending the Textile Society of America's biennial symposium in Los Angeles.

You can read my blog about the last symposium (2012) in Washington, D.C Sept. 28, 2012

Since this coming week features International Talk Like  Pirate Day I would like to repeat for you Pirate Flags.

Wednesday, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  I suppose it is no more unusual than days dedicated to librarians, teachers, dentists, or family pets. The origin of this special day can be found in a great website  Seems as thought 2 friends John and Mark started, in jest, the notion between them and a few friends joined in.  Later they emailed Dave Barry, the syndicated columnist, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Actually, the history of pirates is a well- documented account of profiteering, violence and the dangers of the sea.  Mostly, we hear the romanticized version, of swashbuckling seamen and buried treasures on deserted islands.

Let us look at some facts about these guys.  Firstly there is a difference between privateering and piracy.  Privateers were privately owned and manned armed ships commissioned by a government to attack and capture enemy ships, especially merchant vessels. They flew the national flag of the country sponsoring them, adding additional symbol flags, such as red flags for warning and, good old, “Jolly Roger”, meaning bad things were coming your way if you resisted.  Without flying a national flag, these ships were considered pirate vessels acting on their own.  There are some accounts of ships flying national flags and banners of other countries (not their own) to entice unsuspecting ships and although this smacks of cheating, as long as they replaced the false flag with the correct national flag, this was considered ok under the rules of war.  Privateers were also known as “sea beggars”.

Pirate crews were not “shanghaied” and dragged into service, rather, when a well-known captain announced his ship was “going on an account”, members of his previous crews were given first preference and then others who wished to join came next. Another interesting fact is that these crews were actually very democratic.  The Captain and the quartermaster were elected, this insured the fair treatment of the crew.  Further, subsequent votes could be taken at any time. Articles of Agreement, signed by all, spelled out various duties and shares of any spoils.  The crew pledged not to betray each other, desert or abandon ship in battle.   In reality, most pirate crews preferred taking a prize ship without a fight.  If the warned ship surrendered, there was little danger to the crew, however, if there was resistance it was met with much violence, the crew, to a man, would be slaughtered.

Of course there needed to be a factor of intimidation to the victim ship.  Pirate flags conjured up fear, accompanied with the reputation of the pirate captain.  Each captain had a variation of the skull and cross bones and additional symbols were often combined. The skull was s symbol of death as was the crossed bones, dancing skeletons did a jig with death and weapons such as spears and swords promised violence was a’comin.

Pirate flags were sewn by the crew, and some, were commercially made by widows of sail-makers, who often accepted payment in brandy  

                                                                                       Calico Jack Rackman

                                                                                         Henry Every

                                                                                        Edward England

                                                                                                                                                             Christopher Condant

                                                                                     Edward Teach ( Blackbeard)

So, avast maties, think Johnny Depp, and unlock your treasure chest, get your map, and feed your parrot!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago

Several weeks ago I heard, on an early morning news show, that some young women today feel that the so-called third wave of feminism is not really relevant.  The first “wave” was, of course, in the 20’s, the second was the 60’s and 70’s.  Surely, there has been great progress but there are still areas of inequality to be addressed and I spent some time reflecting upon the leaders of the feminist movement in my lifetime.

One woman I have admired throughout the decades is Judy Chicago.  Born, Judy Cohen, in 1939, she adopted the name of her home town and rose among the ranks of both the arts and the feminist movement.   As an artist, Chicago fought the images of men as artists and women as crafts-persons.  She sought to empower women to excel is all aspects of art creation and became known as a champion in "process", by which I mean, the actual making of the art project using whatever necessary methods appropriately and with expertise.  No technique was too difficult to master, whether using automotive spray painting methods to achieve an effect or learning china painting for her famous Dinner Party installation.  If “God is in the Details” (Mies van der Rohe), then Chicago’s works are divine.   

Two of her installations featured vast pieces of needlework .  Probably, The Dinner Party comes to mind firstly, because of its sheer scale and well as its message (and, at times shocking presentation).  The Dinner Party was an examination of women’s history.

“The Dinner Party consists of an open, triangular table, 46 ½ feet on each side.   The table, which is covered with fine white cloths edges in gold.... Contains thirty-nine place settings- thirteen on each of the three wings.  The number thirteen refers to the number of guests present at the Last Supper and the numbers of members in a witches’ coven….Each place setting includes a fourteen inch china-painted plate…a set of lustered ceramic flatware, a lustered and gold ceramic chalice, a napkin with an embroidered edge. These rest upon an embroidered runner which incorporates the needlework style and techniques of the time each woman (dinner guest) lived. " (Embroidering Our Heritage)

Embroidering Our Heritage: The Dinner Party Needlework, Judy Chicago, Archer Press/Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1980

This is a very impressive reference of the project which describes in great detail Chicago's technical drawings and their symbolism, the history of the women guests and the times they lived.  The needle techniques are illustrated and there are many photos of the finished textiles.

Begun in 1974 with the assistance of 400 artist contributors, The Dinner Party installation opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1979. It now resides in the Brooklyn Museum.

Judy Chicago: The Birth Project, Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1985

This publication reads like a journal of the project.  There are diary entries documenting each step.  There are many photos and illustrations of the needlework as well as explanations of Chicago's textile designs.  

The second installation (rather a series of small installations) is Chicago’s Birth Project, for which Chicago designed more than 150 fiber and textile works (only ½ were actually completed) “In the Birth Project, the content, birth, the essential female experience- fused with needlework, a traditional form of women’s art.” (The Birth Project)

Chicago has resided in Belen, New Mexico for thirty years and the New Mexico Museum of Art is featuring her works here in an exhibition: Local Color, Judy Chicago in New Mexico 1984-2014. 
 ( through October 12, 2014)      There is an excellent biography of  Chicago in El Palacio, the publication of the Musem of New Mexico Foundation.

Cover: Peeling Back, 2000, Judy Chicago

El Palacio: Art, History, and Culture of the Southwest.Spring 2014, Vol.119/No.1
El Palacio is available as subscription or as a benefit of membership.