Over/Under

by Emily Winter MFA 15 Textiles

The following text originally appeared in Formative & Persisting: How The Thesis Lives On.

Over/Under asked basic questions of textiles as a medium. Looking to the most elemental forms of thread interlacing, as well as the history of draft notation and time/motion labor studies, it investigated the relationships between cloth and the diagram that represents it, the act of weaving and the systems that seek to increase its efficiency.

In many ways, Over/Under was an argument for the potency of textiles as a medium. I see it as the foundation of the work that I do at The Weaving Mill. It was an opportunity to identify and work through some of the fundamental questions of the medium: its history, its elements, its material and political possibilities. With my collaborator Matti Sloman MFA 14 Textiles, I have been using The Weaving Mill as an experiment, on a semi-industrial scale, in using the production of fabric as a means of contesting some of the forms that led to the industry’s demise. There are many ways to explain our decisions to make things. When you move to the industrial scale, these explanations become all the more important. The decision to make fabric is no longer only personal or creative. It becomes a political and economic decision that has the potential to deal head-on with some very real questions about power, capital, and the nature of work.

We see The Weaving Mill as a place where people of diverse interests can come together around a fundamental technology. We want it to be a place where conversations about the relationship of a person to a machine, the transformation of material ­into commodity and individual into worker, can happen in the physical context of production.

MY THESIS WAS:

  • Historical investigations
  • Archival research
  • Textiles as objects (mine and others’)
  • Varying scales of representation
  • Movement from a draft to a fabric to a factory and identifying the parallel systems that shape all those realms
  • Using the elements of weaving to approach questions of scale, representation, object vs representation of object

MY CURRENT WORK IS:

  • Historical investigations
  • Archival research
  • Field research
  • Identifying the boundaries of the contemporary textile industry and building relationships with the people who comprise it
  • Weaving with industrial equipment
  • Teaching textile skills to adults with disabilities
  • Integrating studio practice and social practice
  • Building a space where people can engage with the mechanics of textile production
  • Designing and producing fabrics for/with other designers and companies
  • Thinking about a weaving factory as a studio that can produce textile art objects and making those things real

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