Materializing a journal for TATTER is a long-awaited dream. Cloth, an extension of ourselves is a second skin. It provides a natural portal to understanding who we are and how we’re woven. For quite some time we have wanted to expand TATTER’s cloth conversation into a content platform, knitting together a living dialogue which employs a quarterly theme to reveal how cloth reflects, inspires, and connects us, (in the world of real-time making).
All around us, textiles are being called to serve and isolate, forging protective barriers around our bodies and experiences. A mask drapes across every face, shielding us and others. Gowns and wrappings isolate frontline healthcare workers into safety. Prayer rugs in their extant rectangles, receive bowed foreheads and provide a defined space of worship.
Quarantine closed our physical space temporarily, yet opened our minds (and our days) to develop this journal. Far from the TATTER team and library’s beloved blue-lined shelves, an introspective space emerged. The globe erupted in unrest and loss, and humanity was forced to live and work apart. But from the lonely perch of awayness, I began to feel that isolation can also be productive. To isolate, is to set apart. Isolation, though painful, provides objectivity. It seemed fitting, even essential, that we embrace the overtness of our separation and mine it for its full value – the spectrum of struggle to gift.
What can cloth teach us about isolation? What can isolation teach us about cloth? What would isolation look like, if it were a material? As we endeavored to connect the two, we asked a group of makers about their time in quarantine. We found that same spectrum of response. Solitude could be destabilizing. At times it was clarifying. Artistic practices became life-sustaining companions, filling the day. One thing is certain: the world of makers, confined in their studios, artfully soldiers on. Our world’s rupture is being beautifully and visibly mended. A claim of existence surges through looms and fingers.
Feelings of isolation can also be chronic, nothing to do with pandemic circumstance. Cloth holds these stories too, bringing relief, revelation and voice, one stitch at a time.
Through their tactile offerings, the artists here invite you on a journey of common understanding. Nestled within the fibers, you will find their triumphs.
The evolution of a journal is a long arc, one that, in our case, stretches across connections in the library with new friends and old, engaging with our dynamic collection. Nothing compares to the joy of witnessing our researchers, visitors and participants expanding their love of cloth through learning something new and, more and more, connecting through a shared experience of crafting. This iteration is but a new way to connect, and we look forward to your thoughts.
We know this platform will continue to evolve, and we ask you to find us with your stories. In the meantime, alongside the solitude and isolation we share, wherever we have reached you, thank you for letting us in.