The exhibition, Patterns of Identity, presents a selection of works from eight undergraduate University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth students in Woven and Complex Woven Cloth taught by Suzi Ballenger in the Fall Semester 2018.
Students used woven cloth as a metaphor to explore concepts of ethnicity, family, religious symbols and political crests. Their social fabric is a contemporary interpretation of 19th and 20th century Rhode Island weaving patterns. In the process of making, students first imitated and then re-designed the historic patterns with a modern version to create their own Pattern of Identity.
One system of pattern making requires a traditional floor loom and is characteristic of the Overshot technique used in historical blankets and coverlets. The original patterns were written and designed by William Henry Harrison Rose in the mid-1800s and Bertha G Hayes in the mid-1900s. Woven on a cotton warp, pattern wefts are two-ply wool with a cotton tabby. The viewer can almost see the transformation from past to present, the tightness of the community by the density of cloth and the importance of heritage with the choices of color and renaming patterns.
Using conventional upright loom weaving techniques, two of the students have identified their sense of self through tapestry weaving. The color insertion, hand manipulation, and pulling certain threads results in a subjective, three-dimensional interpretation of social fabric.
Image: Beach Glass Treasures, Woven by Donna Costa-Pryor