The exhibit begins Textiles with Eve, illustrated in th […]
The exhibit begins Textiles with Eve, illustrated in the margins of an Arthurian romance and late 13th-century manuscript. The subject is clothed in a slate blue dress and spinning thread, standing opposite a barefoot young woman working in a cotton mill.
Tracing the origin of a fiber or textile is a common endeavor, but it is a rare occasion when materials are traced back to their literary roots.
Thoughtfully selected ancient “spinning stories” take the form of The Three Fates, overseeing “the thread of each life” in texts from Greek and Roman mythology; or in Ovid’s tale of Arachne, in which Arachne wins a weaving competition and is transformed into a spider by the goddess Athena.
These mythological threads, common to us all, are media for distinction and personalization, much like the clothes we wear today. Woven cloth is an envelope that surrounds the human body, simultaneously protecting it and revealing its vulnerability.
“textiles are the stuff of myth, but they are also the product of industrial capitalism.” She added, “On one side is a medieval illumination of Eve spinning, her work reminding us of Eve’s thirst for knowledge, of the clothes that humans hid behind after being expelled from Eden, and of the tradition of women textile-makers who spin yarn and make the cloth that protects our bodies from birth to death. Eve points the way to the portion of this exhibition that explores the metaphorical language of textiles, from networks and relationships to the fragility of life as a single, delicate thread.”