"During World War II, everyone in Owosso, Michigan was involved on the home front, even grade-school kids like me who were asked to knit afghans for wounded soldiers.
All of us had relatives in the service and realized we were part of the war effort. I was 10 years old in 1943 and really enjoyed the knitting. I think I did it for a while before I drifter onto other things.
This photograph appeared in the Owosso Argus Press along with an article about our efforts at Emerson Elementary School in my hometown, west of Flint.”
- Richard Mathewson, Norman, Oklahoma. Full Article Here
Also there’s a great read from 'Meditations of a Knitter' where she addresses WWI & WWII homefront efforts. “In any war there’s going to be propaganda. Looking back at some of the homefront propaganda from WWI and WWII you have to see dignity in it.” This is something I’ve thought a lot about. As much as I am against war, when I’ve watched documentaries about the American homefront I’ve always felt a sense of pride followed by sadness that people have generally lost their willingness to make any sacrifices for the good of others.
It’s undeniable that we live in a very ME centered world. We take so much for granted (myself included) on a daily basis. How bad does it have to get before we finally work together again? When we return to civility? Yes, our past is tainted with racism, sexism and homophobia. We’ve come so far (and still have so far to go). But why does it feel like in other ways we’ve completely regressed? How can we bridge our dying sense of community with our modern ideas of equality? Can craft play a role?
The Snatchel Project: Let’s make a uterus or VJJ for each male rep in congress!
If they have their own, they can leave ours alone!
Who Are We?
We are women, we are strong, we are smart. And we have a sense of humor.
We do not need government interference with our doctors or our healthcare.
We do not need government probing our vaginas to help us make decisions about abortion.
We do not need government to give us guidance about whether or not to take birth control.
We do not need misogynistic pundits calling us sluts and prostitutes.
We are half of the population and we will not be treated as children or a disenfranchised minority.
Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, female or male, please join us in sending a strong message to our government representatives.
Tell your male government representatives:
“Hands off my uterus! Here’s one of your own!”
Margarita Benitez is an art + technology and fiber artist based in Chicago + Miami. She is interested in the explorations of art within the making and DIY culture. Her work is rooted in exploring underlying social issues in technology – exploring how today’s society copes with the overwhelming presence of technology, surveillance, data mining and media bombardment. Her work has been exhibited nationally, internationally, and featured in Leonardo and Surface Design magazine.
Untitled (nightvision iraq war still), 2005
MEDIUM: cross stitch
DESCRIPTION: appropriated image of iraq war night vision scene replicated in cross stitch. meditative piece about the duration of the war, the displacement of our reality and that reality which the media presents us.
war cheerleaders , 2005
MEDIUM: 22 thread count weave 54” x 36”
DESCRIPTION: This is part of a current body of work that I am developing. They are woven still images taken from live video. 22 thread count jacquard weavings printed on a computerized loom. They deal with the daily bombardment of images from the media by freezing them to 1/30 of a sec.The pieces question the displacement from reality created by such technology and the penetration of those images into our subconscious. Here we see that sometimes truth is stranger then fiction.
'HANDMADE: when design & craft meet' - article by Lidewij Edelkoort
Today I came across an excellent article by Lidewij Edelkoort. Edelkoort discusses how globalization and mass production has driven us to seek unique experiences: experiences which can be found in craft. This is exactly what I’ve been researching, but Edelkoort writes it far more eloquently and succinctly than I ever could. I started to paste in some of the highlights, but soon realized I would be pasting 90% of the article. Some highlights can be found below but I highly recommend reading the entire article. Here is the full article.
"The globalisation of the world as one market has brought about shopping boredom and uniformity with the alternative boutiques gradually disappearing in favour of chain stores, chain couture, chain food – and chain coffee houses. The idea that not only people in Paris, London and New York should live and consume the same, yet that the masses of Mumbai, Shanghai and Dubai will also do so seems stifling and impossible. Global marketing will eventually come to a standstill, making way for outsider brands and Sunday artist creations. The local will feed back to the global and will animate world brands to become passionately interactive and reactive. Introducing local colour and craft along the way.
To answer this growing global resistance to constant renewal and limitless expansion, humanity and integrity are requested for the years to come. It is time to empower goods with a new dimension; their own character, an invisible energy locked into the design process.
I believe that we will be able to make the object, concept, or service come alive to be our partner, pet or friend, and to relate to us on a direct and day-to-day level. Only when design will be empowered with emotion will we be able to create a new generation of things that will promote and sell themselves; they will have acquired an aura able to seduce even the most hardened consumers on their own terms. Only then will design have acquired soul.”
Lidewij Edelkoort is a trend forecaster, curator, publisher and educator who constantly lives in the future. Studying the links between art, fashion, design and consumer culture.
Starting point for my project are formations, shapes and material combinations that result from the rather accidental than conscious every day actions of human life. I was inspired by curtains, fabric pleats, plastic bags, fabrics that happened to be spread on the floor, wrapped objects and creased blankets. The sheer fascination that fabric drapery can evoke! I was equally absorbed by mass production of clothes, their usage (consumption) and wastage. Realising this project I am interested in various approaches: Paper or fabric installations in 3D, the processing into a two dimensional pieces of fabric and the creation of a textile object that turns into a symbiosis of 3D and 2D. First I produced installations using plain coloured fabrics. The guidelines for my formations were the above mentioned pleats and colour moods (ranges). I printed these onto fabric. This lead to a new perception (point of view) of the different composed pieces of fabric. Working on these installations an idea struck me. To new shapes, away from rolls of fabric! The fashion designer receives fabric objects and not just rolled up fabric! No yard goods! The designer’s challenge is to use these new conditions to create something new. A pair of scissors and a model demonstrate a possible realisation of that very idea.
DIYcouture is a fantastic project by Rosie Martin. Her empowering project is an answer to a fashion industry that is driven by a fictional narrative; one where all women are size 0 - 2 and have plenty of money to spend. Martin makes fashion more accessible by selling affordable instructions to clothes she designs, giving power to the consumer who ultimately creates their own garment.
DIYcouture has made two unusual clothing collections: rather than purchasing a garment, the DIYcouture customer purchases a set of simple, visual instructions, which enable them to make that garment themselves.
The instructions remove the need for complex sewing patterns. Diagrams and pictures take the maker through the creation process, so that unique, personally fitted pieces of clothing are accessible to anyone.
The DIYcouture collections are groups of simple, classic pieces that can be almost endlessly re-invented.
These form the seed of an infinite, mushrooming mega collection by a multitude of makers. Each of the pieces is a possibility brought to life again and again in a new incarnation by every person that chooses to sew it themselves.
Inspired by the thousands of invisible pairs of hands around the globe that make the clothes we buy, DIYcouture hopes to inspire people to get up to their elbows in the 3-dimensional world of creation. It supports the slow revolution. Helping people to produce garments that are precious, rather than disposable, this is the antithesis of fast-fashion.
Last week I was focusing on ‘slow textiles’. This week I found myself searching for artists who have blended traditional textiles and modern technology. I came across artist Ruth Scheuing. Below is an interview from her Surrey Art Gallery Tech Lab Residency in 2010. To view more of her work from Silk Roads, visit her website.
"Ruth Scheuing’ s residency and exhibition project Silkroads, examines the myths and metaphors of the Silk Road. Working with digital maps and images, ancient textile patterns, and a programmable loom, Scheuing creates intricately designed woven blankets. For each tapestry, she merges the patterns and geography of this important historic trade route w ith key historical textile designs that were instrumental in bridging the cultures and economies of East and West. This corridor across Asia know n as the Silk Road moved commodities, people, and ideas, including those connected with art and design."
“The Church of Craft aims to create an environment where any and all acts of making have value to our humanness. When we find moments of creation in our everyday activities, we also find simple satisfaction. The power of creating gives us the confidence to live our lives with all the love we can. By promoting creativity, we offer access to an interfaith spiritual practice that is self-determined and proactive.
The Church of Craft maintains no dogma or doctrine beyond what every member believes for themselves.”
via Wall Street Journal:
“The members of a knitting group at a tsunami-ravaged fishing village share the difficulties that thousands of homeless victims still face nearly a year after disaster swept away their lives.”
“Knitting is popular in Japan. When Ms. Sawka showed up at the Daiichi Sports Field housing complex with donated yarn, several women started using it to make blankets for the needy. Here, women knitted at the center.” View the entire slideshow.
In December I interviewed Max Ventura about Occupy Berkeley’s ‘Knit-In at the Sit-In’. Today I got an email from Max announcing their new website, occupyknit-in.org. One of my favorite features on the site is the feedback they’ve posted from the places they sent knitted items to. They’ve sent items to Cairo, Fukushima, Canada, and New York.
Recently, Occupy Newfoundland received a package from Occupy Berkeley and posted video and pics of opening the package. It’s so great to see craft making connections and lifting spirits. From the Occupy Newfoundland post: "Receiving this solidarity package warmed not only our hands and our necks and our feet — it even more warmed our hearts. To know that such time and care had gone into each and every stitch, to learn that reaching out and standing up together can happen just like that, and to see (ever more clearly) that love knows no borders…Occupy Berkeley…thank you for this gift!"
Karen Yair wrote an interesting article exploring the ways we can bring about change through craft. I’m excited that she mentions the course I was in last semester with Professor Nitin Sawhney. Yair is a researcher, writer and educator with a passion for creative social innovation and the creative industries.