The Women Making Art Out of Textiles

Textile art is one of the oldest forms of arts and crafts. Using a combination of different fibers, textile artists use a variety of techniques to create artworks. Recently, the art form has seen a surge in popularity as younger artists have started using textiles as their preferred medium and material.

Feminist artists, in particular, have been challenging the notion that textile art is not art. They are creating intricate and fantastical artworks using techniques that were traditionally thought of as women’s crafts. Discover how these artists are pioneering the renaissance of textile art.

Faith Ringgold

Ringgold is an American-based artist and activist who was inspired to work with textiles after an eventful trip to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. It was there that she was introduced to traditional Buddhist cloth paintings. These inspired her to create her own. Using quilts that featured the typical cloth brocades of Judy Niemeyer, she painted politically-minded scenes that spurred conversation. Through her quilts, she depicted key moments in African-American history, from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement. The harsh imagery was offset by the softness of the material it was painted on.

Alexandra Kehayoglou

Kehayoglu uses her artworks to depict her and her family’s histories. Based in Buenos Aries, the artist uses salvaged yarn from her family’s carpet factory to create interactive landscapes. She has developed a process in which she utilizes different techniques to make hand-tufted rugs that recreates the idyllic imagery of nature. These three-dimensional landscapes feature the places she would frequent during her childhood. She insists that people touch her artworks as a way to breathe life into them.

Sheila Hicks

Hicks has been working with textiles since the 1950s. She spent her youth studying different weaving techniques around the globe, from Chile to India. Using the knowledge she has gathered, she came up with creations that transform the typical two-dimensional medium into a three-dimensional object. Hicks is known to incorporate materials such as feathers and bamboo into her compositions using a handloom.

Judith Scott

Scott is another textile artist that creates three-dimensional artwork using different fibers. She is known to produce cocoon-like sculptures where she will wrap a found object with yarn, fabric, and thread. Scott would spend weeks covering these items in fibers until they are unrecognizable. The artist was inspired to take up the medium after a visit with another famed fiber artist, Sylvia Seventy, in the late 1980s.

Pia Camil

Camil uses her heritage to create wearable art. She took inspiration from Hélio Oiticica’s Parangolé series where viewers were given different textiles to showcase them in movement. Camil used discarded fabrics to create wearable paintings in the form of robes, ponchos, and picnic blankets. She continues to explore textiles as an art medium by using different techniques, like tie-dye, to create minimalist-themed artworks.

These days, more individuals are taking part in textile art. They are discovering creative ways to use this medium in producing non-traditional artwork. Fortunately, several artists, such as those mentioned, have paved the way in popularizing this art form in the modern age.