Linda and I have been having a swell time the last couple of days at the Textile Society of America’s Biennial Symposium in Savannah, Georgia. We’re hanging out in the marketplace with our friends from ClothRoads, the wonderful folks from Ibu, Randall Darwall, Over the Blue Horizon , and many other purveyors of one-of-a-kind textile goodies.
But the marketplace is just one thread of a much larger tapestry of offerings. The days have been full of presentations on scads of topics from collecting collectables to living with lace and dyeing indigo—past and present. Eric Mindling, Oaxaca Stories in Cloth author and photographer is one of the presenters for a session called, “Revealing Women’s Work.” Plus, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich gave a stellar keynote speech and seven textile exhibitions have been set up throughout the city including Arimatsu to Africa: Shibori Trade, Techniques, and Patterns curated by Yoshiko Wada and Source and Sequence: Digital Weaving curated by Janice Lessman-Moss.
The R. L. Shep Ethnic Textiles Book Award is given annually to a publication judged to be the best book in the field of ethnic textile studies. The award is to encourage the study and understanding of textile traditions by recognizing and rewarding exceptional scholarship. We’re thrilled that Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas by William Morris, Jr. and Carol Karasik and Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives by Deborah Chandler and Teresa Cordón have both been nominated. The winner of this prestigious and important award will be announced tonight.
The theme for the 2016 Symposium is “Crosscurrents: Land, Labor, and the Ports.” Presenters were invited to explore the ways in which textiles shape, and are shaped by historical, geographical, technological and economic aspects of colonization and/or globalization.
Savannah, as the conference organizers intended, has been the perfect place to examine the interaction between local textile practices and global markets; we’re reminded of this several times a day as we watch container ships ply the Savannah River just a few feet away.