Working with resistance – What can textile teach us? workshop with Jorella Andrews co-sponsored with the Center for Visual Cultures

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Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection
@ 12:30 pm

In “The Challenge of Constraints,” a chapter in E. H. Gombrich’s The Sense of Order: A Study in the Psychology of Decorative Art (1979), Gombrich presents encounters with material resistance, with natural and mathematical laws experienced as limiting, and with forms of learned psychological constraint, as threshold scenarios capable of enabling creative practitioners to enter fresh imaginative and stylistic terrain. More recently, in her 2021 essay “William Morris: The Poetics of Indigo Discharge Printing” the scholar Caroline Arscott addresses analogous terrain by thinking with and through textile lessons she sees Morris to have learned as he navigated the practical problematics of dying and printing with pigments and fibres that were, naturally, and differently, resistant to one another. Arscott is interested in how, along with the visual and symbolic content of his textiles, he allegorised these technical processes to elicit insights that informed his approach to politics and the politics of change.

In this workshop, we will work with a range of textiles that overtly utilise resist techniques to produce their patterns, most obviously blocking (with wax or paste) winding with thread or fibre, and resist- and mordant-dyeing. To this, we might add the role of textile resistance in the production of stitched work such as embroidery (piercing and knotting) and pulled and drawn thread work. The workshop will include a short, practical “extreme list-making” exercise, allowing participants space for individual reflection before we turn to a period of experience- and insight-sharing.


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