Latin american textile art in process

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This article was published in The Surface Design Journal (US) Fall 2013 Volume 38, Number 1 Latin American Fibers

Transcript of Latin american textile art in process

  • 4242 Surface Design Journal

    in processb y P a u l i n a O r t i z

    L a t i n A m e r i c a n T e x t i l e A r t

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  • 43Fall2013

    How can Latin America contribute textile creativity and communicate the potential for furthering itsinterconnectivity, developmentand visibility on the globalartistic scene?There is no easy answer to this question if we take Latin America as a whole, with all the different ethnic groups, nationalities, and prefer-ences coexisting among our nations. To under-stand Latin American participation in globaliza-tion circuits, we first have to come to grips withthe reality of the contexts in which our artists areevolvingwith the concerns, obstacles, andopportunities facing them and the artistic textiledynamics taking place in some of our countries.

    For this discussion, I gathered severaliconic personages of our textile culture whoseprofessional contributions have shaped the tex-tile aesthetic practices in the area through con-stant work and perseverance. Contributing ourtextile creativity and its capacity for communica-tion to the rest of the globalized world impliestaking on one of our biggest challenges, whilethe future of most of our countries fades awayamidst unpayable debts, permanent crises, and alack of systems that might spur clear policies forthe sharing of cultural assets. Unfortunately, wemust add to this the nonexistence of textile pro-grams in most visual arts schools and, therefore,the almost total nonexistence of specialized cura-tors capable of including contemporary textileart in distribution channels, such as museums,galleries and fairs. This is in addition to heavyduties on exports and imports and poor Internetaccess in some countries.

    In the 20th century, governments invest-ed in the preservation of textiles as objects thatshould reinforce the peoples sense of identity.Committees and organizations encouraged andendorsed indigenous and popular arts. Museumswere created and became one of the few educa-tional institutions for textiles. With rare excep-tions, there was a disregard for active educationin the materials, conceptualization and tech-niques of textile expression as a resource for

    increasing the effectiveness of textile productionand creation in art, design and artisanry. An ade-quate approach and investment, without absurdprejudices, could make textiles an important driv-er for our cultural industries, creating jobs forthousands of people in a solid and fair workingenvironment. Some of our countries and creativeagents had better vision, encouraging moreexchange to attain better results. The generaltrend, however, was a shrinking of opportunities,so only those with mettle found a way to workwith almost nothing and to persevere.

    The results of joint and solitary effortsstarted to take shape in the 1960s, when severalvisual artists began using textile materiality toexpress themselves. A first generation of artists inArgentina, notably Gracia Cutuli, Joan Wall andother European-educated artists, broke with thestructure of tapestry, researching and developingthe potential of fiber in the search for new lan-guages. Gracia created El Sol, the first tapestryworkshop in Buenos Aires, and later started the ElSol Gallery, a crossover for artists using this medi-um.

    In the 1970s, Graciela Szamrey foundedand directed La Rueca, the first textile art schoolworkshop in Cordoba, and Ana Mazzoni found-ed the Integrated Textile Art Center, also inCordoba. The Argentine Center for Textile Art(CAAT), an institution of textile artists, helpedmake Argentina the Spanish-speaking countrywith the most dynamic and active textile artscene in Latin America. The CAAT is now presidedover by Laura Ferrando, accompanied by Silkeand Isabel Ditone, stellar figures in Argentiniantextile. CAAT edits Tramemos magazine, a forumfor information and debate, essential for thedevelopment of the countrys textile art.

    The first university textile design work-shops were also founded in the 1970s, such asthe one at the Pontifical Catholic University ofChile headed by Inge Dusi, Carmen GloriaGajardo and Paulina Brugnoli, and the work-shop at the Faculty of Arts of the University ofChile with Teresa Riveros. The daughters of thisgeneration include Paola Moreno, artist,researcher and academic at both these universi-ties; and Andrea Fischer, an artist and presidentof Chile Crea Textil (CCT), the only organizationcreated to foment textile art growth and devel-opment in Chile. Paola is currently working onMaterial Memory, a project on the material quali-ties of textileespecially its potential for plasti-cally saving a record of its manipulations in a

    GRACIA CUTULI in 1981 with a group of tapestries from her 1970s series Modifiable and Participatory(cotton warp and wool weft, handwoven on a high-warp loom, dimensions variable). Photo: Alfredo Willinbourg.

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  • 44

    memory of the material. Andrea is using fiberfor displaying and moving into the aesthetic andsymbolic dimension of the fabric, connecting itwith the earth as the origin and culture as anevolutionary process. Both artists concur thatinclusion of textile expressions in the main artcircuits and collections has been limited to tem-porary exhibitions because of a lack of special-ized textile art curators.

    Fortunately, CCT has been able toreverse this situation to some extent. Today it ispossible to appreciate the results of their efforts,

    seeing the best of Chilean contemporary textileart in an exhibition held for the first time at theNational Museum of Fine Arts in 2012 and theTramando el Diseo (Weaving the Design) exhibi-tion earlier this year at the Centro CulturalPalacio La Moneda. There are also textile art pro-grams at the Provincial School of Fine Arts inCordoba, the National University Institute of Artin Buenos Aires, and the National University ofRosario. All of these institutions have providedartists and educational resources that have per-meated Argentina's cultural atmosphere.

    L a t i n A m e r i c a n T e x t i l e A r t i n p r o c e s s

    ABOVE: PAOLA MORENO Sin titulo (Untitled) Shibori on linen, hand embroidery, about 31.5" x 63", 2010. Photo by the artist.BELOW: NOEL LOESCHBOR Todas en m (All in myself)Woodcut on organza, finished with embroidery and objects,

    47.25" x 78.75", 2012. Photo: Susana Perez.

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  • 45Fall2013

    The results are embodied in the qualityof its artistic works, such as those of LeoChiachio and Daniel Gianonne who have res-cued needlework by expressing themselves. Theyare considered rising stars, exhibiting in fairs, gal-leries and international museums. ManuelAmeztoy is the first Argentinian artist invited bythe Faena Arts Center to present his Pop-upParadise, a 3,000-foot installation of hand-cut tex-tiles that recreates the emotions triggered in theartist during his stay in the Entre Rios wetlands,his primary inspiration. Three young emergingartists, Guillermina Baiguera, Nol Loeschbor,and Pablo Peisino, are attracting attention withtheir meticulous needlework. Guillermina isknown for her erotic Japanese stamps, Nol forher ideas about the movement of the body, andPablo for his world of art from comics.

    Fortunately, these crises have sparked asearch for solutions in this century. With thedepletion of government resources and thearrival of the Internet, many textile agents haveinvolved themselves in major private initiativesthat have vitalized the medium, offering newopportunities and a fresh global approach. TheWorld Textile Art Organization (WTA), presidedover by its founder Colombian artist Pilar Tobn,is one initiative marking a before and after inLatin American textile art. It began with the

    millennium change with the WTA promoting andfomenting contemporary textile art in all itsexpressions by holding three biennials and manyother side events at different venues. In 2000 and2002, biennials were held in Miami, Florida, wherePilar is based. The third in 2004 took place inValencia, Venezuela.

    The Fourth WTA International Biennialwas held in Costa Rica in 2006, co-organized withthe Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center(CCCN). Workshops, conferences and a tour wereadded, marking the events exponential growthover later years.

    As the International Director for thisevent, I realized that our countries were discon-nected with little opportunity for culturalexchange. In response, I proposed the creation ofthe Ibero-American Textile Network (Redtextilia)with the support of the Spanish Cultural Center,the WTA, the CCCN, and the advisory efforts ofthe European Textile Network. Redtextilia's mis-sion is to encourage interconnectivity while pro-moting knowledge and development of Ibero-American textile culture, primarily among its 64current members who represent over a dozencountries. Through initiatives in textile creation,education, and heritage, we work together withrecognition of the cultural plurality of the Ibero-American community.

    MANUEL AMEZTOY Parasos desplegados (Extended Paradises) Nonwoven cut fabric, dimensions variable, 2012. Exhibition view shown courtesy of Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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  • Since then, Redtextilia organized its FirstEncounter conference in Costa Rica in 2010, andthe WTA has organized biennials in Argentina(2009), Mexico (2011) and the soon-to-be-held7th biennial in Medelln, Colombia (2014). Bothorganizations impact the contexts in which theyhave evolved in a variety of ways. As a result ofthese efforts, there has been a growing, activeinterest in textile materials and dynamics.

    The WTA Costa Rican biennial in 2006brought about the creation of the textile designdepartment at the National University of CostaRica in 2007, headed by Herberth Bolaos. Thecreation of Redtextilia inspired the foundation ofChile Crea Textil, presided over by AndreaFischer. The First Encounter Conference of theIbero-American Textile Network in 2010 broughttogether the group of artists and designers whotoday comprise the Costa Rican Textile Collective,which was invited the following year to representCosta Rica at the 8th Textile Biennial in Kaunas,Lithuania. The impact of such international expo-sure has been different every time but theseevents are definitely drivers of change as theymake it possible to materialize textile art forthousands to touch and see, and then demandthe changes needed in each country.

    The Peruvian Center of Textile Art inLima was founded two years ago, with artistMary Deacon as its president. The Center seeksto rescue textiles as an active Peruvian treasure,taking into account the impoverished conditionsin which many of Perus urban and rural artisanweavers live, and the speed with which theirancestral techniques are being lost. The Center


    L a t i n A m e r i c a n T e x t i l e A r t i n p r o c e s s

    CRISTINA COLICHON Dibujos sobre pared (from the series Drawings ona wall) Detail, cotton and enameled copper weavings, dimensions vari-

    able, 2012. Photo: Daniel Benaim.

    PILAR TOBON Kimono II (from the collection Homage to Kimono)Personal technique on organza, linen and aluminum, 110.24" x 47.24",

    2009. Photo: Enrique Abal.

    LEFT: PABLO PEISINO Expreso calavera (Skull Express) Detail, cotton thread on discarded fabrics, embroidery, 23.6" x 15.7", 2012.

    Photo by the artist.

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  • 47Fall2013

    MAXIMO LAURA Dilogo Intimo Con La Madre Alpaca wool, cotton and mixed fibers, handwoven tapestry, 51.2" x 48.8", 2008. Photo: Museo Maximo Laura records,

    also communicates how contemporary textilecurating in Peru is emerging but still practicallynonexistent on the national and internationalvisual arts circuits. Exceptions include Peruvianartists Cristina Colichn, Ella Krepps, andMaximo Laura. Cristina, Perus representative atthe 2013 Venice Biennale, works Peruvian tradi-tional techniques by reinterpreting the dialogbetween light and alternative materials, such asnylon, film, and metallic fibers, from a contempo-rary point of view. With the exception of therecently founded textile design institute inArequipa, directed by Mariana Masias, fiber-artcurriculum is still absent from university-levelprograms in Peru.

    It is with satisfaction that I have con-firmed, through conversations with the generouscollaborators in this research, that our collectiveefforts are making a difference. Together we are

    realizing the sharing and knowledge of LatinAmericas creative textile potential. Clearly, theanswer to the initial question is to continue towork in solidarity.

    The 7th International Biennial of Contemporary TextileArt and Design organized by the World Textile ArtOrganization (WTA) will take place in Medelln,Colombia, from March 5 to April 5, 2014;

    Argentine Center for Textile Art, Crea Textil www.chilecreatextil.clEuropean Textile Network, www.etn-net.orgIbero-American Textile Network,

    Paulina Ortiz is a designer, artist, professor of textiledesign at Universidad Veritas, and president of theIbero-American Textile Network. She was a juror forFiberart International 2013, reviewed on page 54 inthis issue.

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