ArtsWatch features Textile Symposium

November 04, 2019

"Warp, Weft, and Beyond" is Martha Daghlian's report on the Textile Connections Symposium “Textiles & Culture: Past, Present, and Future” recently hosted at PNCA.

The Symposium was a weekend-long gathering held at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) that consisted of artist lectures and discussions on Saturday and a “makers’ marketplace” on Sunday all of which aimed to spark critical conversation and networking amongst a broad range of artists and craftspeople in the metro area. The Symposium was independently produced by a team of dedicated volunteers with support from Columbia FiberArts Guild, PNCA, Oregon Community Foundation, Portland Textile Month, and Regional Arts and Culture Council.

The event featured mother-and-daughter Palestinian embroidery (tatreez) experts Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim and Wafa Ghnaim. "Abbasi-Ghnaim was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship in 2018 for her artistry and activism. Ghnaim is the author of Tatreez and Tea, a book documenting her family’s craft and its cultural significance."

There was also a panel with Alison Heryer, a costume designer and professor at Portland State University, and Sara Bernstein, a fashion scholar and professor at PNCA, who "shared a focus on critically engaging with the often conventional narratives of fashion and textile history they teach to their undergraduate students. They described their pedagogical methods for opening our perceptions of history to readings grounded in non-Eurocentric perspectives and non-binary identities, and emphasized that their progressive-minded young students were often the sources of their inspiration. ... Bernstein’s efforts to shake up the world of fashion scholarship have taken the form of an online magazine, called Dismantle, that features critical takes on contemporary fashion and culture written by professors, students, professionals, and amateurs alike. After realizing that the world of academia was too cloistered for her tastes, Bernstein created Dismantle as a way to broaden the field and its audience, in the hopes of effecting real change in our shared understanding of why, what, and how we wear."