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Where Imagination Looms

Transforming Textiles: A Century of Craft and Innovation

Anna Carlson

There's an art form that has been with us for centuries--look at the sleeve of your shirt, study the weave in your jeans--yet modern technological advancements in creating woven fabric have found little room to improve upon it. It remains with us and will continue in its final, enduring form.

In preparing for her forthcoming LearningLife course, textile artist Anna Carlson uncovered a surprising revelation: "I found an essay by Anni Albers that reminded me that the essential structure of a woven fabric has not [been] changed at all by mechanization or digitization of production."

Textiles are present throughout every aspect of the human experience. "From protective rain gear to political t-shirts, medical patches that knit flesh together and great grandma's patchwork quilt, textiles carry memories and meanings along with their functional use," Carlson says. "It's their ability to spark a recollection and communicate identity that really interests me."

Carlson's engagement with textile art has existed as long as she can remember. "I am the daughter of a hand-weaver," she notes. "My attraction to textiles was imprinted by my surroundings as a child: yarns, beautiful fabrics, sample books." Carlson eventually went on to earn her MFA from the University's College of Design where she now teaches occasionally.

Offered in cooperation with the Goldstein Museum of Design, Transforming Textiles: A Century of Craft and Innovation has three distinct components (classroom lecture, museum visit, and studio visit) that delve into "craft practices and how they inspire both imagery and methods of textile production along with how textiles are associated with cultural moments."