Tag Archives: textiles

Poetry Bombing & Stuffed Animal Rugs by Agustina Woodgate

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Artist Agustina Woodgate has been sewing quotes into secondhand clothes to bring ‘poetry to everyday life’

 

Residents of Miami have been getting a little something extra with their charity shop purchases after artist Agustina Woodgate began surreptitiously sewing tiny pieces of paper carrying lines of poetry into the city’s thrift store clothes.

Describing her project as “poetry bombing”, the Argentinean artist nonchalantly enters Miami’s charity shops with needle, thread and scissors, and quickly sews a short quote into a piece of clothing without – she hopes – staff noticing. Skirts are targeted with the Sylvia Plath quote, “Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts”, while the Li Po extract, “Life is a huge dream / why work so hard?” has been mainly sewn into trousers.

“The idea is to generate a surprise for the future buyer. Read the brand of your new suit and next to it find a little message,” said Woodgate, who has sewn 500 labels into clothes so far. The clandestine project is part of the poetry festival O, Miami.

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“Sewing poems in clothes is a way of bringing poetry to everyday life just by displacing it, by removing it from a paper to integrate it and fuse it with our lives. Sometimes little details are stronger when they are separated from where they are expected to be,” she said. “Places and objects are alive, we make them alive, they tell our stories and tales. Sewing poems in clothes in a way is giving the garments a voice.”

So far, says Woodgate, “the reception has been great. People really enjoy it. And they actually do smile.” Once a customer even got angry on her behalf after spotting her sewing and finding out she wasn’t being paid for it, but she has been thrown out of two stores. “I did get kicked out twice, but it’s fine – there are so many [charity shops],” said Woodgate. “Most of the time, they can’t even imagine that there is someone around sewing poems. It’s harmless.”

Currently in Berlin, Woodgate is now hitting the German capital’s shops with her needle and a new collection of tags bearing the quote “Wissen spricht. Aber Weisheit hört zu”, the German translation of the Jimi Hendrix quote “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens”. She’s just looking at targeting charity shops so far, but is considering “plane seats, or even table cloths from restaurants – why not? The idea is to get the message out.”

 

 

Video by Jacob Katel

Agustina Woodgate

via guardian.co.uk | by Alison Flood

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The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Quilts of Gee’s Bend Catalog at Auburn

NPR Story and Podcast

Gee’s Bend was named after Joseph Gee, the first white man to stake a claim there in the early 1800s. The Gee family sold the plantation to Mark Pettway in 1845. Most of the approximately 750 people who live in Gee’s Bend today are descendants of slaves on the former Pettway plantation. Their forebears continued to work the land as tenant farmers after emancipation, and many eventually bought the farms from the government in the 1940s. Isolated geographically, the women in the community created quilts from whatever materials were available, in patterns of their own imaginative design.

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Inner Sympathy of Meaning by Liz Hager | Venetian Red:

Loretta Pettway has spent her whole life in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a tiny rural community largely cut off from the rest of the world since after Civil War by a cruel trick of nature. The Alabama River meanders around the town in a horseshoe shape creating a virtual island out of the community. Ferry service ran sporadically until the 1960s, when it stopped altogether. This physical isolation guaranteed that generations of Gee’s Benders would remain wretchedly poor and pretty well ignorant of the world at large—much less the New York art scene.  Ironically, it was this very isolation that enabled the Gee’s Bend women to preserve their rich and beautiful tradition of quilting, passed down through four generations of mothers and daughters.  In a further twist of irony, the quilts themselves have become the means by which the contemporary community has reconnected with the world beyond the bend.

At the de Young exhibition of the quilts last year, I vividly remember the moment when I turned the corner from the hallway into the first exhibit room. That first group of stunningly bold pieces took my breath away.  I was dumbstruck. How could so traditional a folk form created by a group so isolated from the modern world appear so. . . well, strikingly modern? In their abstracted and geometric patterns, the quilts displayed an uncanny kinship to the  60s and 70s paintings of Frank Stella or maybe even Barnett Newman.

As I moved through the exhibition, the quilts offered me something that most of the work of Minimalists never has—quiet and intense joy. It’s the same emotional chord struck in me by a Rothko painting. Perhaps its that large blocks of color function as a long forgotten, but deeply-ingrained, juju on the human psyche. In their uniquely exuberant, yet dignified way, the quilts connected me the wonder and bliss of being human. I felt a kinship to the Gee’s Bend artists, even though I’d never met them. Ultimately, given the evidence of this beautiful handiwork, should it be such a surprise that despite, or perhaps because of, their separation from the world, the quilters of Gee’s Bend had a profound and universal connection to it?

In the early years of the last century, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), one of the first truly emotive abstract painters, wrote: “the relationships in art are not necessarily the ones of outward form, but are founded on inner sympathy of meaning” (Concerning the Spiritual in Art). Kandinsky believed in the artist as a spiritual teacher.  He strived hard to express the soul of nature and humanity in his work. I believe he would have found true “sympathy of meaning” in the works of Gee’s Bend.

Tip of the hat to John Sousa

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Frank Connet

Hand woven wool, Shibori resist, dyed with natural Indigo and Walnut by Frank Connet. Found at fibercopia.

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