'Textiles Recycled/Reimagined'

New show at the BMA uses textiles as an example of green living

March 12, 2010|By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

"It's a patchwork," says Anita Jones, curator of the intimate new exhibit, "Textiles Recycled/Reimagined" at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Punning aside, the 12-item display draws together a diverse sampling from the museum's holdings that help to demonstrate a hot topic of the day. "We're trying to show how textiles have always been 'green,' " Jones says.

A century or so ago, as hooked rugs made in Newfoundland became very popular, an appeal was made to women all over the continent: "When your stockings run, let them run to Labrador." Donations of old silk stockings and underwear were cut up, redyed and used as pile to make such colorful rugs as "Polar Bear on Ice Floe," a circa-1930 item in the exhibit.

The antique-looking "Log Cabin Shirred Rug" from 1973 by Barbara Evelyn Merry uses bits of cotton sacking and other scraps. "She's recycling by choice," Jones says. An example of "recycling by need" is revealed in "African-American Strippy Quilt" from 1950s Mississippi, made by Eloise Lindsey. The vivid bits of fabric range from feed sacks to prints of cartoon characters.

There's an up-market smoking jacket from Boston, circa 1905, created out of ribbons that had bundled cigars, and a Japanese silk fabric recycling designed in 1993 by Reiko Sudo that is embedded with feathers salvaged from the restaurant industry.

Also from Japan comes a Buddhist priest's robe made up of strips of cloth refashioned into an intricate, rice paddy-inspired pattern - textiles not only recycled and reimagined, but, you might say, reincarnated.

"Textiles Recycled/Reimagined" runs through Sept. 5 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Free admission. Call 443-573-1700 or go to artbma.org.

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