Needles & Pins: Textiles and Tools
the Cotsen Gallery, Neutrogena Wing
May 6, 2007 to January 4, 2009
creation of textiles has inspired human thought and communication throughout time.
In ancient Greece the Three Fates spun, measured, and cut the thread of life,
determining mortals' destiny with spindle and blade. Many European fairy tales
incorporate spinning and weaving to comment on woman's role in the family and
society. All languages are rich in metaphor and expressions of textiles and their
making. We talk of the fabric of life and the thread of a narrative or story;
of someone cut from whole cloth and the act of weaving together a community. Making
and using cloth permeates everyday life even though few people these days are
directly involved in the process.
Cloth is made, embellished, or constructed
with tools which started out as a simple extension of the human hand. The same
processes done by the hand-operated loom, spinning wheel, and needle are carried
out today in computerized factories. The scale has changed but the basic processes
and tools have not. Needles and Pins: Textiles and Tools showcases many
variations of the tools developed over time and by different people. Textiles
and garments illustrate the dazzling possibilities that result by combining human
creativity and skill with these surprisingly simple tools.
can express cultural identity as well as personal creativity. People use cloth
and clothing to signify cultural belonging or separateness. In many places, a
woman's ability with loom or needle still demonstrates her worth as a wife and
provider for her family. Since the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century many
waves of textile craft revival have washed over the developed world. Knitting
and crocheting are currently enjoying renewed popularity. In a world where mass
manufacture is the order of the day, things hand made and possibly imperfect,
showing the hand of the maker, are once again important. Ancient technology is
as relevant today as ever.