Anni Albers wrote in 1965, “Just as it is possible to go from any place to any other, so also, starting from a defined and specialized field, can one arrive at a realization of ever-extending relationships . . . traced back to the event of a thread.”
Such events quietly brought about some of modern art’s most intimate and communal breakthroughs, challenging the widespread marginalization of weaving as “women’s work.” In Albers’s lifetime, textiles became newly visible as a creative discipline—one closely interwoven with the practices of architecture, industrial design, drawing, and sculpture. A key driver for the development of new languages for woven forms was the emergence of interdisciplinary educational institutions such as the Bauhaus school of art and design, Cranbrook Academy of Art, and Black Mountain College. These schools championed experiential learning—or learning through doing—an approach that had been in part inspired by progressive early-childhood teaching models of the 19th century.
True to its title, this exhibition takes a thread for a walk among ancient textile traditions, early-20th-century design reform movements, and industrial materials and production methods. Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, this show highlights the fluid expressivity of the medium.