Common Threads: Innovative Textile Practices in India & Western North Carolina

09/08/11- 01/27/12

“Common Threads” explores the fiber art of four artists – two from India and two from Western North Carolina – who work with other individual artists or businesses to create work that is both innovative and viable to the marketplace. This exhibition shares information on the unique artistic processes of these four artists and highlights how collaboration has expanded their opportunities. From India, designers Bappa Biswas and Jabbar Khatri work closely with local artisans to execute components of their design such as hand weaving, dying and/or sewing.

Gallery

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In Western North Carolina, fiber artists Barbara Zaretsky and Catharine Ellis each collaborate with The Oriole Mill, a local business that creates customized fabrics while also making industrial Jacquard looms available to practicing artists. Bappa Biswas and Jabbar Khatri are both internationally known and have achieved success by combining traditional practices with ones that are sustainable for today’s market. Bappa is based in Kolkata in eastern India and uses a wide range of traditional weaving techniques to create contemporary fabric designs sought after by today’s fashion designers. Jabbar is from Kutch in western India and designs textiles using bandhani, a tying and dying technique that his family has been practicing since the late 17th century. Barbara Zaretsky and Catharine Ellis each work with The Oriole Mill to design custom fabrics that are then hand dyed using their own unique processes. Zaretsky uses natural dyes along with block printing techniques to create her clean, abstract and formal designs for functional textiles. Ellis is known internationally for her woven shibori, a process of weaving and resist that she developed in the 1990’s based on the traditional Japanese technique. Using the Mill’s industrial Jacquard looms, Ellis advanced this technique by designing a woven structure that mimicked the laborious hand-process of stitching the fabric to create dye patterns. The Oriole Mill has allowed both Zaretsky and Ellis to explore the threads, woven structure and patterns that will work best for their products including scarves, dresses, wall hangings, table runners and pillows. These collaborations have resulted in creative business practices that expedite production while maintaining the highest quality of raw materials, woven structures and dying processes. The combination of traditional techniques with new practices and processes demonstrates the viability of craft in the marketplace today.

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