Monday, March 06, 2006

Intro-a-rama

Hi Everyone,

During the 2005 Conference of Northern California Handweavers at Asilomar (in Pacific Grove, CA),
Sara Lamb-sensei suggested that I start a blog as a means to get the word about fiber out there. At the time I was about to enter the graduate program in textiles at San Francisco State University. My life has since been relocated to Sacramento, and I'm currently on leave from SFSU; so now's a perfect time to start a blog. I think that the diary process blog will be a perfect medium instead of my expired website (which I didn't update once in 2 years). Thanks to Sara for suggesting this process.

The text-textile connection. What's that all about? During my senior year in college a hundred years ago, I took a linguistics course and became alive at the study of language and the social implications of language. On a whim several years later, I signed up for a weaving class at the Barnsdall Art Center in Los Angeles. Little did I realize that I would become hooked on textiles. Why am I fascinated by textiles? After all, textiles have such a humble, disposable position in our society. Textiles fascinate me not only because of their power to protect (or expose), but also because of their power to reveal social position and show religious affiliation, to name a few reasons. My love of textiles is similar to my love of language –– both are subtle, yet powerful.

The words “textile” and “text” come from the same root (Latin texere, “to weave, fabricate”). (See footnote 1 for the reference.) One can see examples of this connection through the textile metaphors in English (e.g., "spin a tale," "an interwoven tapestry of blah blah," "what a tangled web we weave," etc. Can you think of any others?













I am primarily a weaver and a dyer, and some of my pieces focus on text, integrating my two passions. On my piece Oh Kuso (2004), I stitched the word “shit” in Japanese on a doorway curtain in an attempt to jolt non-Japanese speakers upon learning the meaning of the script. How could this humble textile have such a foul meaning? (photo by Sarah Wagner) One thing I have to be careful about is not to move myself into a role as a smug commentator. I have also learned about my own role in exoticizing other cultures -- all will be revealed.

Anyway, this is blog is not meant to be a high falutin (sp?) intellectual exercise. It's just meant to get people thinking about text, textiles & process.

Next time I'll post some pictures of the bible piece & other things I'm currently working on.

Comments/thoughts/complaints are welcome.

Bye for now.
Bren

1. American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd Ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993.

18 comments:

Sara said...

Welcome Bren! I look forward to more of your work, and your thoughtful words. Sacramento eh? That should be a change!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Bren. I'm excited about your blog. I'm currently finishing up post-graduate work at Pacifica Graduate Institute. My dissertation topic is weaving as a mythology. I'm fascinated that even though the majority of people today in an industrialized society have no direct connection with weaving, still it is the metaphor which carries our innermost passions and belief, and even hope. After all, it's the world wide web, the fabric of our lives, reweaving society, and so on and so on. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Linda Watson (soon to put up a website as part of my dissertation)
wvrwmyn@aol.com

Laura Thomas said...

Hi there....

Found out about your blog from your posting on Weavetech. Really interested to hear about your work, as this is an area I have been exploring for a while. I wrote my MA dissertation on the link between text and textiles (Royal College of Art, 2001). It was a very broad essay covering etymology, language, and literature: it's links with textile processes, and the written word as a source of inspiration for fashion designers. At the time it was an impossible subject to research as I couldn't find any examples of anyone exploring this subject academically, but I am glad to see that it’s now starting to crop up more.

I had the opportunity to undertake a fantastic commission in 2003 called 'Project Poetry!', which was organised by The South, a Brighton (UK) based promotional organisation for writers and poets. Project Poetry! involved 7 poets being partnered with 7 artists to produce a collaborative piece of visual art. I was the only textile person involved (specialising in weave). Andrew Dilger (the poet I worked with) wrote a wonderful poem entitled 'Prayer to the Fates', which was inspired by the fact that the word cloth comes from Clotho, who in Greek mythology, 'spun the thread of life'. I then wove the poem on a jacquard loom to create an artwork which was displayed in Arundel, West Sussex in 2004. All the Project Poetry! commissions will be exhibited together for the first time in Brighton in May / June this year. Anyway, if you want any further info or images of the commission do get in touch. (NB the images on The South website aren’t very explanatory at all - so ignore them please!)

All the best, Laura

fiber scriber said...

Have you considered adding texture to your musing? Text, texture & textiles seems like a dynamite combination.

Welcome to the blog world. It can be addictive!

Charleen said...

Welcome, Bren. I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing about your work.

Anonymous said...

What a great way for you to keep in touch! I've added you to my list of "must see" blogs. Hope to see pictures of what you have done lately.

Marlene in SF

ozweaver said...

This is a subject near and dear to my heart, so I look forward to checking in here regularly! I was a Latin and Greek student back in the dark ages and have been weaving since then as well. Glad to see there are others who love text and textiles!

neki desu said...

Hi.

I think we share a love of textile words and Japanese culture.Loved the noren!
Looking forward to more entries.

neki desu

Birdsong said...

Got here from Sara's blog (she got me into her guild, even though I am a knitter and not a spinner or weaver). Welcome to blogland... it is great to see the rich texture of writing styles, what people choose to write about, and how they explore their passions as expressed through their blogs. Yes, you may well find it addicting!

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