Southeast Asian Textiles on View in DC
Through October 13, the Textile Museum in Washington hosts its final exhibition before the institution’s relocation to the forthcoming George Washington University Museum in 2014. “Out of Southeast Asia: Art That Sustains” showcases 17 historic textiles from the region alongside contemporary pieces.
Exhibition curator Mattiebelle Gittinger discovered contemporary textile artists Carol Cassidy, Agus Ismoyo, Niam Fliam and Vernal Bogren Swift while traveling in Southeast Asia. Gittinger found that each artist specialized in traditional methods of Indonesian batik and Laotian weaving, honoring the traditional artistry while introducing contemporary nuance and intrigue to each piece.
Primarily interested in Indonesian batik, Swift displays bold patterns and bright colors made with natural dyes such as pomegranate. Meanwhile, Cassidy works to preserve the local skills and techniques of Laos, producing tapestries, scarves, and upholstery while Fliam and Ismoyo draw further inspiration from Indonesian batik, contributing seven complex silk hangings.
By interspersing current work with the historic pieces, Gittinger creates an intricate textile evolution—but the curator is quick to point out that the exhibit is hardly all encompassing. “There were over one thousand ethnic groups across the region—only three are included in this exhibition,” Gittinger says. The show connects the past with the present just as the museum looks to the future and its new affiliation with George Washington University Museum.