Highlights from the Textile Society of America’s Symposium

Category: Fairs and conferences

By Michele Hardy

The Textile Society of America recently hosted their 13th Biennial Symposium, Textiles and Politics, in Washington, D.C. A terrific success, it attracted 420 participants from 37 different countries! Over the 3 days there were scholarly paper presentations, panel discussions, film screenings, demonstrations and tours, with additional workshops and tours preceding and following the symposium.

The TSA is unique among textile-focused groups for embracing the study of historic and modern, fine art and ethnographic textiles from around the world. The program reflected this diversity with panels devoted to royal patronage, sustainability, process, pedagogy and textiles of the Cold War era.

A lively marketplace accompanied the symposium and featured new and old textiles, books and more! (Photograph by Ann Svenson).

Of interest to JOZAN readers were panels on Andalusi Textiles (especially Heather Ecker’s paper “Were the Nasrid Sultans Seated on the Same Carpets as the Kings of Aragon?”) and Textiles at Royal Courts (notably, Founding Presidents’ Award nominee, Selin Ipek’s paper, “Ottoman Fabrics During the 18-19th Century”). The panel Royal Patronage and Textile Collections also featured a variety of papers of relevance to rug and textile connoisseurs (e.g. Tina Kane’s “The History and Conservation of 16th Mughal Carpets”), while the Effects of War on Textiles featured a paper by John Gillow (“The Effects of War on Textile Production Contrasting with the Effects of the End of Communism on that of Uzbekistan”).

Organized by Chris Martens, the panel Central Asian Textiles: Politics and Process was particularly stimulating with papers by Elmira Gyul (“Sogdian Textile Design: Political Symbols of an Epoch”), Irina Bogoslovskaya (The Soviet “Invasion” of Central Asian Applied Arts”) Stephanie Bunn (“Drawing of the Past, Making the Future”), David and Sue Richardson (“The Influence of Tribal Conflict, the ‘Great Game,’ and Trade on Qaraqalpaq Costume”). The panel was well conceived and resulted in a standing-room-only crowd!

Enthusiastic questions followed the papers presented at the panel Central Asian Textiles. On the right, Irina Bogoslovskaya (Photograph by Michele Hardy).
A silk ikat sample, shown by Irina Bogoslovskaya, illustrates the Soviet influence on the applied arts of Central Asia during the period 1920-1960 (Photograph by Michele Hardy)
Elmira Gyul, Janina Poskrobko and Irina Bogoslovskaya

Also organized by Martins, was a workshop and ongoing demonstrations by master velvet ikat weaver, Rasul Mirzaahmedov and his assistant Aziz Murtazayev, from the Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan.

Master weaver, Rasul Mirzaahmedov, from the Fergana Valley, with samples of ikat (Photograph by Ann Svenson).
Rasul Mirzaahmedov, master velvet ikat weaver from Margilan, Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan. (Photograph by Elmira Gyul)

It has become a TSA symposium ‘tradition’ to Include site seminars—exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of local textile collections with curators and researchers on hand. Washington offers no shortage of collections and the organizers were able to provide tours to: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Textile Museum, National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resource Center, and Dumbarton Oaks among others.

Symposium participants listening to opening remarks in the garden at the Textile Museum reception (Photograph by Ann Svenson).
Participants of a special site seminar at Dumbarton Oaks view the All T’oqapu tunic, a Late Horizon Inka tour de force tapestry woven garment, dated 1450-1540 CE (Photograph by Robin Muller).

In addition to the very stimulating academic program, the symposium featured two fabulous receptions—the first at the U.S. Botanic Gardens (sponsored by the Robert and Ardis James Foundation) where textile-related plants had been specially planted—the second at the Textile Museum (sponsored in part by the Hajji Baba Club of New York and Ezra Mager) where symposium participants also enjoyed a special preview of “The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art.” The exhibition, now open, features some of the TM’s rare Ottoman treasures and is sure to draw crowds.

David and Sue Richardson at the symposium opening reception, U.S. Botanic Garden (Photograph by Ann Svenson).
Bruce Baganz (Chair of the Board of the Textile Museum) and Barbara Kaslow (Representing the Hajji Baba Club, NY) welcome symposium participants to a lavish reception at the TM and a preview of the exhibition, “The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art”. On the right, Elena Phipps, TSA President (Photograph by Ann Svenson).
From the exhibition at the Textile Museum (Photograph by Elmira Gyul)

Textiles and Politics was a resounding success, and will prove a hard act to follow. Organizers, however, are already preparing to do just that in Los Angeles in 2014. Please visit www.textilesociety.org or follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on these and other TSA events!

Michele Hardy, PhD, Director of External Relations, Textile Society of America.


Find books by John Gillow, Sue Richardson, David Richardson, Heather Ecker, Irina Bogoslovskaya,

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