Possession & Creation : Objects in Relationship : The Ethnoaesthetic Origins of Textiles
curated by Alayna Wiley

Possession & Creation uncovers the aesthetic thread that ties together what we collect with what we make. The artists featured in the exhibition were asked to create a portrait of themselves composed of a small collection of their personal possessions to be shown alongside their artworks. The self-selected items tell the story of the individual’s history of exposure, attachment, and identity in the realm of material culture. Through selecting items that form part of one’s identity, a small dictionary of key visual signifiers of meaning are filtered out from a mass of visual content. By exhibiting possessions alongside creations, the viewer has a chance to think visually and to link the conscious and subconscious aesthetic values that influence what we collect and what we make. The show features the possessions and creations of six textile artists working in a variety of modalities, weaving, natural dyeing, up-cycling, knitting, embedding, drawing, and tailoring.

The interactive group exhibition will present an opportunity for the public to contribute to a weaving piece which incorporates recycled clothing into a community tapestry. Attendees are also welcome to bring a few locks of hair along to weave into a communal amulet of collective healing in the Filipino tradition of Buhok at Anting Anting, an artistic act of object-based shamanism, by Cynthia Alberto founder of The Weaving Hand.

The curatorial initiative proposes the revival of the word ‘ethnoaesthetics’ as a necessary lingual and ontological development that innervates the languages of object expression with its due significance. This inquiry draws connections between ‘implicit cosmology’ and ‘explicit material manipulation’ and unpacks valuation systems inherent in objects. Each demographic gestalt, including personal, familial, societal, ethnic, religious, or gender-based identities has its own set of varied ethnoaesthetics, or cultural valuation systems, and each is highly intersectional. Each demographic grouping that we belong to informs the collection of objects from which we will both curate our home space, and draw material in order to create art. Developing our understanding of the influential relationship that ‘exposure’ has on ‘identity’ in global and individual visual culture mandates an expansion of our ontological understanding of the forces behind aesthetic choices– This is why the revival of the word ethnoaesthetics is a powerful tool in understanding ourselves and our values as a society.

About the Artists
Cynthia Alberto is Filipina, an artist, weaver, weaving activist,  teacher, and founder/director of the Brooklyn-based weaving studio, Weaving Hand.  Her personal work as a fiber artist bridges traditional and contemporary weaving: drawing inspiration from ancient communities of Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Cynthia honors the artisanal process of weaving while using unconventional materials to create expressions of form, structure, and function, often addressing themes such as femininity, age, and beauty as it relates to our culture today. Cynthia continuously explores diverse relationships between weaving, healing, inclusive art, craft, and sustainability. Cynthia is a recipient of the Dan River Weaving Award (1998);  Peters Valley Craft Center Art Educator Scholarship (2008); The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2009); Museum of Arts and Design – Open Studio Artist Residency (2009); and Ace Hotel Artist in Residence (2015 – 2016).  Since 2009, Cynthia has been a Resident Artist at League Artists Natural Design; a studio and gallery in Brooklyn, NY that features work by adult artists living with disabilities.

The Hair Series is inspired by the idea that hair is a universal commonality that every person can relate to. Depending on climate, culture, religion, and cultural traditions hair can be seen in many different ways. Hair is not only something which exists on the body but it also is a part of what we wear, how we cover our bodies, and how we present ourselves to the world. In India having long luscious hair is a sign of ultimate female beauty, while in South African hair which has been cut from the body can be used used to cast spells and carries great powers to ward off evil spirits. This series of weavings is speaking to the universal comfort that hair brings to different cultures around the world. www.cynthiaalberto.com

Melissa Dadourian is a Brooklyn based artist working in textile media, painting and sculpture. She received a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA in Combined Media and Painting from Hunter College. Dadourian has exhibited internationally and in New York. Recently Dadourian presented work as resident artist at the Courtyard House in Gowanus, Brooklyn as well as Sardine Gallery.  Residencies include Vermont Studio Center, MASS MoCA, The Textile Arts Center, the American Academy in Rome, and Citè Internationale des Artes in Paris.

The transient quality of thread and line as well as its ability to disappear or unravel in an instant is something that is embraced in her work. Meaning can be found in a color or a shape and the relationships between the pieces’ geometric forms. Intrigued, at an early age, by the obsessive aspect of craft and “handiwork,” Dadourian began making dollhouse furniture out of discarded household objects, and beds for tiny porcelain animals. Growing up in the 70’s craft movement has influenced her plethora of seemingly functional items. This fascination with skill and handiwork lead to the study the history of women’s work and domesticity. While the “soft geometry” pieces are carefully constructed, they also appear to be torn and falling apart, only then to be repaired. Through this act of intentionally “anti-productive” or “anti-functional” objects, a great beauty is found in the expression of love through constant mending. www.melissadadourian.com

Angie YooJin Kim is a textile artist, designer, and weaver and founder of Studio YooJ based in Brooklyn, NY. She studied fine art textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design. The architecture, tactile nature, and flexibility of fibers attract her to use textile as her dominant material. Her career began working as a textile designer for fashion and interior clients. In 2018, Kim launched Studio YooJ as a platform to collaborate and work with other designers and artists to who share the same appreciation for tactility and detail. The founding teh studio on teh principle that true luxury is defined by the textures and depth that exist from objects that are created by hand, by handcrafting surfaces with uncommon techniques, the studio offers designers infinite possibilities to enhance their collection

Kim’s work examines the complex systems in nature and society. The woven textile is a structural setup that serves as a bridge for dialogue between natural and synthetic network. Every system is delineated by its spatial and temporal boundaries, surrounded and influenced by its environment. By the using of very simple standardized from a grid I explore, the layers of complexity and capability of man made system which reflects modern society’s attempt to mimic and control nature. www.studioyooj.com

Tiantian Lou is an interdisciplinary artist, from Vancouver, BC. Graduate of Rhode Island School of Design (Architecture) in 2018 A and currently an artist in residency of Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. Her work is an investigation of architecture through the process of making. She is a dweller. She makes physical and imaginary dwelling through the discipline of painting, jewelry, textile, ceramics, furniture and architecture. www.loutiantian.com

Victoria Manganiello is an installation and mixed media artist based in Brooklyn, NY.  Named as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 for 2019, Victoria has received multiple international recognized grants and residency appointments and has exhibited her work throughout the USA and internationally including at the Queens Museum, Museum of Art and Design, and the Tang Museum. She is also a professor of Textiles at NYU and Parson’s the New School. Exploring the intersections between materiality, technology, geography and storytelling, Victoria’s installation work, abstract paintings and kinetic sculptures are made meticulously with hand-woven textiles using hand-spun yarn and hand-mixed natural and synthetic color dyes alongside mechanical alternatives and modern technologies.

Exploring the intersections between materiality, space, philosophy and storytelling, Manganiello’s installation work, abstract paintings and performances are made with hand-woven textiles using hand-spun yarn and hand-mixed natural and synthetic color dyes. These labor-intensive and monotonous processes subliminally act as connectors to all the cultures on the map, current and past that have, uniquely, yet simultaneously developed textile techniques across space yet I am using them to make abstract contemporary art.  The hand-made is supplemented by contrastingly extreme synthetic materials and modern technologies, she uses materiality as a way to explore binaries and dualities. By utilizing the genre of installation, these artworks create a space for viewers to find themselves within- between locations- questioning the relationship between: ‘where they and we came from’, ‘where they are going’ and ‘where they belong’. Knowledge of the future is never provided at the start, yet through inquiry, there is a directionality to our histories.  www.victoriamanganiello.com

Shihui Zhou was born and raised in China, where she attended the prestigious Tsinghua University for her undergraduate work in fashion design. Zhou worked closely under Visual artist Nick Cave at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and moved to New York shortly after her graduation. She currently is in residency at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY.
 Zhou focuses on the human body and garments in her installations. Leveraging her own cross-cultural experience from the point-of-view of a spectator, her work thematically draws upon social structure, the feeling of cultural belonging, and intimacy in relationships. Using saved and collected, and recycled clothing & textiles within her art, much of the sentimentality and energy reflects memory and the past. In this way Zhou views her multi-sensory instillations as a form of poetry or storytelling— these visual and performing art spaces include sculpture, video, and sound which invite performing artists to collaborate while welcoming viewers to directly interact. www.zhoushihui.com

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