textile-blog

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Happy Friday! How are you all doing? I’m here with the first update on my second semester of fashion school. We started a few weeks ago and I have to say, I’m pleased with the way everything is going. Considering that my first runway is in a few short weeks, I’m not feeling overwhelmed at the moment. Everything feels smooth and routine. I’m excited to see how all my work will turn out over the next three months.

Here is where I stand as of February 12, 2016:

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A Feast of Astonishment: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde

(Written for and reposted from the Lillstreet Textiles Department Blog!)

Let me set the scene: The year is 1966 and my mother is living in Greenwich Village, NYC. While searching for a bathroom in the Judson Memorial Church, she instead encounters a woman wearing nothing but a fur coat playing a cello. It was a happening and it certainly made my mom feel cool.*

As it turns out, that woman’s name was Charlotte Moorman and she was known as The Topless Cellist. Although she was trained as a classical cellist, Moorman used her skills to question the nature of art and the meaning of music. She worked alongside, and collaborated with, artists such as Nam Jun Paik and Yoko Ono, and for over two decades, was a household name in the New York arts scene. Another one of Charlotte Moorman’s achievements was organizing and producing of fifteen annual avant-garde performance arts festivals (on a shoe-string budget, no less) that brought hundreds of artists from all over the country together for a celebration of their work.

So, why am I cluttering our sacrosanct textile blog with personal anecdotes about performance artist? For a couple of reasons:

1. There is a retrospective of Moorman’s work currently on exhibit at the Mary & Leigh Block Museum at Northwestern University and it is nothing less than a national treasure. Many of her performances intersect with textiles in fascinating ways. A Feast of Astonishment: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s showcases her entire career. It beautifully displaying ephemera from each phase of her career, including an amazing little nook with video of the artist performing Yoko Ono’s famous “Cut Piece” and a framed collection of the actual fabric remaining. In addition to Moorman’s performances, the documentation of work made during her festivals include a number of fabric pieces, including a huge, painted banner that reads “think crazy” (which I definitely want to remake for my studio wall).

2. I have a(n admittedly tiny) personal stake in the show, as I was lucky enough to sew a “chamber” in which a cellist could perform during the opening event on January 16th. Unfortunately, you can no longer see the piece I worked on, but documentation of the original piece - one of Moorman’s many collaborations with Nam Jun Paik - is included in the exhibition. In “Anima 2 (also known as "Chamber Music”) the artist and her cello enter a fabric “chamber” with zippers that function as “windows and doors.” The artist then proceeds to make sounds with her instrument and engage with the “windows:” extending limbs, peering through at the audience, even poking bits of the cello out of the “chamber.”

I think this piece is fascinating. As someone who is comfortable utilizing fabric to create clothing, sewing the “chamber” offered me an opportunity to engage with fabric and the body in a different way. There was a consistent hiding and revealing that occurred during the performance, both visually and audibly. The artist clearly felt restricted in the tight space which, although it may have been uncomfortable, was never presented as such and thus allowed her to remain in control. Because the space was ultimately flexible, the chamber’s shape was in direct relation to the artist’s position and movements. A lot to think about… and clearly I am still thinking about it.

I cannot recommend this show highly enough! The Block Museum is free to enter and is open every day but Monday with free parking available on weekends and after 4pm on weekdays. Here’s all the information you’ll need if you’d like to schedule a visit.

If you’d like to know more about Charlotte Moorman’s life and/or work, Joan Rothfuss has written a wonderful biography. Bonus: here’s a short youtube documentary. Enjoy!

xoxo

Nora

(* Epilogue: my mom was so excited when I told her about my commission that she flew to Chicago for the opening. She loved the performances and says she wished she’d been more plugged into the arts while she was living right in the middle of it. We had a lovely visit.)

Throwback Thursday - Colonial Williamsburg

Throwback Thursday – Colonial Williamsburg

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First2Print teamed up with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to recreate a special time period dress. Inspired by an antique swatch of silk shantung and a historic design, the costume replication was created digitally by Design Works International artists who scanned and cleaned up the image in Photoshop, for preparation for digital fabric printing.

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BA3B

Mid Term Show // Fabric Length Final

For the Mid Term Show, I have 3 final fabric lengths, 2 of which I have created in my previous BA3A project. I decided to design 1 more final fabric length which is a combination between the 2 other fabric lengths. This third printed fabric length consisted of open screens, procion dyes, tape and bold colour. I continued on with creating a coloured background using open screens, but breaking up the block colour using discharge paste to take away colour, creating white which acts as another colour. Figure 1 shows tape that I used in my design to tape off areas ready to discharge onto. I wanted to create depth within my work, which is reflected in my drawings and studio practice designs. The processes I used are methods I will be continuing on with in my next project as I really enjoy working with and understanding colour, using tape to create sharp interesting structured lines, and geometric block shapes. Even though the discharge came through most of the colours, it did not take away the deep blue colour. Instead, the discharge changed the deep blue into an emerald green colour. I decided to keep the green colour on my design, it really lifts my design and actually works well! Overall, I am pleased with my final design outcome!

Throw Waaaay Back Thursday

Throw Waaaay Back Thursday

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The Cleveland Museum of Art came to us with with this scan.

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It is a tapestry from the Byzantine Era and is over 1100 years old!! It is one of only two examples in the world today. Obviously it is severely damaged. What they wanted to do was recreate a piece, digitally, so the viewer could understand the complete design.

They also had scans of the one other fragment and we were tasked with…

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