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in•ter•face In•ter•face is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the place where two independent systems meet and act on or communicate with each other.” Later this year, hundreds of textile-loving artists, educators, and enthusiasts will do just that when they come together at the 17th International Surface Design Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas (June 6–9, 2013). The conference theme of in•ter•face, further defined as “the means by which interaction or communication is achieved,” will be explored through a series of inspiring lectures, workshops, demonstrations, and gallery exhibitions. This year’s keynote speakers, acclaimed artists Janet Echelman and Nathalie Miebach, will open our collective minds to ways of engaging more creatively with the world around us. This issue examines the concept of in•ter•face with a selection of thoughtful articles by and about several featured conference participants. Elissa Auther shares the illuminating multicultural works of Annet Couwenberg, who traveled abroad to gain a stronger sense of self. Warren Seelig takes a closer look at the budding love affair between contemporary art and fiber materials and techniques. Bean Gilsdorf unpacks Otto von Busch’s experimental fashion “hactivism” workshops held around the world. Closer to home, Gabriel Craig pieces together a heartfelt story about Kathryn Clark’s Foreclosure Quilts. At the other end of the spectrum, Michaele Haynes brings to light San Antonio’s glamorous centurylong Fiesta Gown tradition. I love to travel and revel in seeing sites of American history. San Antonio’s most famous tourist destination, by far, is the Alamo. Researching the Texas Revolution, I learned that the final battle (fought between less than 200 defenders against over 1500 attacking troops) took place in 1836 on March 6—my birthday. No wonder I’ve longed to see this patriotic memorial since I was a kid. The Alamo’s official website says it best, “People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds—a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.”

Other exciting sites in San Antonio I can’t wait to visit are the Southwest School of Art, host of our conference workshops, demonstrations, and exhibits of recent work by featured speaker Michael James, Trish Ramsay, and Naomi Wanjiku. The hotly-anticipated Members’ Fashion Show, in•ter•face: Fabricate, will be presented by the University of the Incarnate Word’s renowned fashion program with special guest artist Judy Bales. The pre-conference one-day Fiber Study Tour will include SDA President Jane Dunnewold’s new Art Cloth Studios, a Fiesta Gown exhibit at the Witte Museum, and a stop at the McNay Art Museum to see the collections of theater arts, costume drawings, and stage models from around the world. Save me a seat on the bus! Interested in submitting your work for the upcoming SDA Members’ Show, Members’ Fashion Show, and/or Student Members’ Show? Online applications for all three will be available January 7, 2013 to coincide with online registration for the conference. To download the submission guidelines and the in•ter•face brochure, visit —Marci Rae McDade

Surface Design Journal Editor

ABOVE: The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. Photo: COVER CREDIT: ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Pansori Portraits #1 Single channel HD video on monitor, 45" x 26," 2010. Korean pansori singer Park Jung Bong wears a traditional hanbok costume and Dutch collar made of stitched paper doilies. Photo: Kika Nicolela. Winter2013


Copyright Surface Design Journal速. Not to be reprinted. All rights reserved.

Copyright Surface Design Journal®. Not to be reprinted. All rights reserved.

Surface Design Journal

features 06 20

Annet Couwenberg: Clothing as Interface


by Elissa Auther


Unraveling Economies: Gali Cnaani by Jessica Hemmings


Change from Within: Otto von Busch by Bean Gilsdorf


Catching the Light in San Antonio by Michaele Haynes


Kathryn Clark’s Foreclosure Quilts by Gabriel Craig


An Artworld under the Spell by Warren Seelig


Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan by Mason Riddle


Mining for Gold in Museum Collections by B ru ce W. Pe pi c h


Simon Beck’s Winter Wonderland by Jamie Chalmers

34 2



Surface Design Journal

Winter 2013 Volume 37 Number 2

departments 50

Exposure A gallery of recent work by SDA members


First Person Beth Barron


In Review Crossing the Line: The Many Faces of Fiber New York, New York COTTON: Global Threads Manchester, England Edward Lambert: A Retrospective Greenville, North Carolina


Spotlight on Education University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, Texas


Southwest School of Art San Antonio, Texas


In Print The Art of Not Making: The New Artist/Artisan Relationship


A Letter from Jane Dunnewold, SDA President




Copyright Surface Design Journal®. Not to be reprinted. All rights reserved.

A n n e t

C o u w e n b e r g

Clothing as Interface b y

ANNET COUWENBERG with her piece Clothing as Interface: Shared History. RIGHT, TOP: ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Shared History Recycled advertisement vinyl banners, industrial ties, thread, bojagi, Seminole Patchwork, 12" x 150" x 280", 2010. RIGHT, BOTTOM: ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Meeting Point #2 Recycled advertisement vinyl banners, industrial ties, thread, origami, 12" x 100" x 30", 2010. Photos: Dan Meyers.


E l i s s a

A u t h e r

Annet Couwenberg’s artistic practice has always been concerned with structure, and her newest body of work Clothing as Interface is no exception. The moniker is an umbrella for three projects—Cross-Cultural Muslim Identity (2010); Pansori Portraits #1–4 (2010); and Shared History (2010)—that originated in creative encounters between Couwenberg and, respectively, Muslim women in the Netherlands and pansori singers in South Korea. Much of the artist’s work leading up to Clothing as Interface—for instance, the corsetlike form Untitled #4 (1996) or the deconstructed Ruffled Collar (2004)—has investigated dress for its structural capacity, likening it to architecture or furniture. Textiles have also often functioned as markers of identity in Couwenberg’s pieces. With this new body of work, the artist extends her long-standing investigation of both issues by focusing on the role textiles play in social structures, not only as emblems of group identity, but also as an “interface” that inflects our sense of self in relation to others. Cross-Cultural Muslim Identity was conceived and carried out in Rotterdam Zuid (South), historically a working class, and, after WWII, predominantly immigrant neighborhood where Couwenberg lived as a child. For this project, Couwenberg joined Freehouse Rotterdam, a neighborhood social enterprise organized to provide resident women with an income from sewing. The group consisted of Muslim women of primarily Turkish descent and Couwenberg, who, while sewing alongside the other participants, conducted informal interviews with them about their experiences as immigrants. As an immigrant to the US nearly 25 years ago, Couwenberg is a sympathetic interlocutor when it comes to the struggle to recreate a sense of belonging in one’s adopted country. As the video documenting the project suggests, ties to family, the larger immigrant community, and religion mattered Surface Design Journal



ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Pansori Portraits #2 Single channel HD video on monitor, 45" x 26," 2010. Korean pansori singer Ko So Ra wears a traditional hanbok costume and Dutch collar made of stitched paper doilies. Photo: Kika Nicolela. 8

Surface Design Journal

immensely to the women, and the role of traditional dress, such as the wearing of the hijab headscarf, was connected to maintaining all three. The video work also records Couwenberg in student mode learning to make oya, a Turkish lace that adorns scarves, towels, and tablecloths, among other items. This exchange of fiber culture, history, and skills between the artist, herself a skilled lacemaker in the Dutch tradition, and her collaborators extended Couwenberg’s goal of creating a meaningful reciprocal relationship between her and the foreign-born participants of the sewing sessions. Cross-Cultural Muslim Identity contributes to the already prominent position of fiber-based art within the contemporary genre known as social sculpture or, more commonly, social practice in the arts. In such projects,

Korea and the Netherlands share a history that dates back to the 17th century… artists function as choreographers of social interactions intended to motivate communal forms of exchange. It’s no surprise that craft, particularly sewing and other forms of fiber art, is often the glue that holds these projects together and creates the possibility for positive forms of interaction. The pleasure of productive, immersive labor combined with a creative component built into the task at hand creates a platform for sociability and exchange. No doubt, Couwenberg’s nearly 20 years of professional experience as the chair of the Fiber Department at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore primed her for the demands of working in collaboration with others. In 2009, she stepped down as chair to spearhead a new MFA in smart textiles, a field that is inherently crossdisciplinary. Out of this work came courses that were team-taught with faculty across MICA. In 2010, she took this cross-disciplinary model to a new height with her course Wash & Wear Electronics: Smart Textiles, which


brought together MICA’s departments of Fiber and Interactive Design, and Johns Hopkins University’s Digital Media Center. Together they created the Collaborative Smart Textiles Research Lab, an unconventional learning environment that challenges students from both institutions to work across disciplines or in fields altogether new to them. Couwenberg continued her exploration of the role of traditional dress in South Korea where she spent part of 2010 and 2011 in residencies at the Gyeonggi Creation Center (GCC) and the Kaywon School of Art & Design (KSAD) in Seoul. The starting point for the work that resulted from these residencies was an examination of the traditional Korean dress called the hanbok, worn only in performance or ceremonial settings at this point in its history. In the work that resulted, Couwenberg examined the hanbok’s structure of layers and folds and reimagined it as a hybridized form. The first works to be completed were Clothing as Interface: Meeting Point #2 and #3 (2010). These floor-based sculptures are made of discarded vinyl banners stored at the GCC that have been folded into hanboks. The flatness of the constructions highlights the elegant intricacies of the dress’s pattern of folds and references paper origami, particularly in the way the bodices of the sculptural forms gently rise from the ground and are suspended in place through a precise crease. There is a noble regal tone to the prostrated ancient garment that contrasts with the salvaged contemporary advertising banners used to construct them. The collision of Korean history with contemporary commercial culture in these works acts as a metaphor for Korean society itself, wherein respect for tradition and the embrace of the modern are held in delicate balance. Korea and the Netherlands share a history that dates back to the 17th century when Hendrik Hamel shipwrecked off the Southern coast of South Korea and Jan Weltevree was stranded in 1627 near Busan. The presence of both has left traces on the local culture and, through the writings of Hamel, gave the Dutch a firsthand account of Korea. In Clothing as Interface, Couwenberg references this cross-cultural encounter in the video installation Pansori Portraits #1–4 (2010) and the sculpture Shared History (2010). Clothing as Interface: Pansori Portraits


No doubt, Couwenberg’s nearly 20 years of professional experience… primed her for the demands of working in collaboration with others. #1–4 are four single channel, high definition videos of well-known Korean pansori singers wearing and performing in the traditional hanbok fitted with Dutch ruffled collars made of stitched-together commercially available paper doilies. Pansori is a genre of traditional Korean music consisting of a single vocalist-storyteller singing songs of love and loss and a percussionist who punctuates the story and singing style with simple beats and verbal sounds. In their video portraits, Couwenberg asked the singers to sit silently in poses reminiscent of Rembrandt portraits while running through a performance in their heads. The patient viewer will notice that there is an occasional change in facial feature, like a tear streaming down the face of one of the singers at a dramatic point in this difficult mental exercise. Couwenberg introduces the Dutch ruffled collar again in Clothing as Interface: Shared History. In this case, the collar form is part of a broader cross-cultural encounter where it comingles with Korean hanbok and bojagi textile forms and Native American Seminole patchwork. Together, these forms represent Couwenberg’s Dutch heritage, adopted homeland of the US, and her new Korean environment at GCC. This work ideally illustrates Couwenberg’s stated vision of Clothing as Interface as a fiberbased global gathering site of traditions and histories. ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Pansori Portraits #3 Single channel HD video on monitor, 45" x 26," 2010. Korean pansori singer Han Jung Yi wears a traditional hanbok costume and Dutch collar made of stitched paper doilies. Photo: Kika Nicolela.


Surface Design Journal

Couwenberg’s return to Rotterdam and her residencies in South Korea provided the artist with a period of time to reflect upon her own journey to the US and the opportunity to examine the boundaries of her own heritage in relation to others through the history of textiles and clothing. However, Clothing as Interface is not just a personal investigation; it also supports the value of hybridized identities in a world where people, often disconcertingly, prefer to cling to expressions of identity defined as “pure,” many carried out through dress or other textile forms. Annet Couwenberg’s website is To learn more about the Fiber Department at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, visit Author and art historian Elissa Auther will be a featured speaker at in•ter•face, the 17th International Surface Design Association conference in San Antonio, TX (June 6–9, 2013). To read the brochure and register online, visit www.surface

—Elissa Auther is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and the author of String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (2010, University of Minnesota Press).

ANNET COUWENBERG Clothing as Interface: Pansori Portraits #4 Single channel HD video on monitor, 45" x 26," 2010. Korean pansori singer Kang Tae Gwan wears a traditional hanbok costume and Dutch collar made of stitched paper doilies. Photo: Kika Nicolela.



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E POSURE JANET LASHER Charlotte, North Carolina Conscription (with detail) Abaca, seed, sinew, cast abaca pulp over reed, sinew stitched spine, 24 figures each 47" x 13" x 9", 2012. Photos by the artist.

MARIA SHELL Anchorage, Alaska Speedy Higgins Plays the Drums Vintage and commercial textiles, hand-dyed fabrics, thread, batting, machine quilting, 37.5" x 37.5", 2012. Photo: Chris Arend.


Surface Design Journal

KELSEY VIOLA WISKIRCHEN Kirksville, Missouri Her Name is Sopapilla Polyester thread, freemotion machine embroidery, 35" x 24", 2012. Photo by the artist.

TRISH RAMSAY Huntsville, Texas Interloper (with detail) Over 1200 felt balls on steel rods placed around a 130-year-old cedar tree, 20' x 20' 2012. Created with help from students at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas. Photos by the artist. Artists represented on the “Exposure” pages are members of the Surface Design Association (SDA); This issue features members who will present exhibitions of recent work during in•ter•face, the 17th International Surface Design Association conference in San Antonio, Texas (June 6–9, 2013). To read the brochure and register online, visit Winter2013


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i nr eview New York, New York Reviewed by Nell Znamierowski

Crossing the Line: The Many Faces of Fiber World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery The Textile Study Group of New York (TSGNY) celebrated its 35th anniversary with an exhibition of members’ work that showcased how diverse fiber art has become. Crossing the Line: The Many Faces of Fiber consisted of 58 pieces created by 54 members chosen by juror Rebecca A. T. Stevens from 160 entries. The show was elegantly mounted in the spacious World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery (December 6, 2011–April 1, 2012) with natural light changing the character of pieces throughout the day. Diversity was everywhere apparent. Techniques ranged from the use of high-tech electronic equipment to very simple, slow, repetitive handwork. Often it was technique layered upon or used with another. Materials could be the time-honored fibers such as linen, wool, silk, and cotton, or novelties including various metals, wires, papers, buttons, tea bags, zippers, tire fragments, and other found materials. Recycling was a prominent theme in the show. Size ran the gamut from very small to large; most pieces were wall-mounted since only about a dozen objects could be considered truly three-dimensional. Concepts ranged from ultra-realism to impressionism, fantasy, and pure abstraction. Color was a strong element in much of the work, with the rest relying on form and line to carry the content. Every piece was worthy of a few words of comment, but several “spoke” with more intensity to me. I was immediately drawn to the dark hue nuances and dramatic U-shaped sweep of Extension/Velocity by Elaine Longtemps, with its myriad of thin, multicolored cotton ropes stitched to a white canvas. Equally fascinating was Polly Barton’s Sotto Voce, a silk and rayon piece using ikat and sumi ink to imply a centered orb in shades of orange. In an almost mystical way, color and form shifted and coalesced within the frame. White and gold sparkled from Nancy Koenigsberg’s Morning Light made of knotted copper wire and glass beads. It flowed down from the wall glistening, glowing, and riveting the eye. Betty Vera’s Division is a beautiful abstract of a hundred colors in a barely defined 54

HYUNJU KIM Nubigt, 000, 080 Stitching on repurposed denim cloth, dimensions variable. Photo: Manhong Lee.

landscape—one of the best pieces to come from a jacquard loom in a long time. In Kate Weaver’s Crude Explorations, bright color is airbrushed on satin and hand-quilted into a shiny, futuristic painting. The brilliant colors of Flag 5 by Larry Schulte are created with acrylic paint on paper that was cut into strips and woven into a symmetrical pattern with a center that seems to pulsate. The other side of bright was Leaving Home, a quiet, contemplative piece by Grace Bakst Wapner. This linear abstraction is composed with a minimum of color in thread, paint, and paper with intimations of Paul Klee and the serenity of Agnes Martin. Also toned down is George-Ann Bower’s Ohlone Housecoat with its palette of tans, browns, and grays. Triple-weave pickup gives form to the deep, undulating folds of the front side of this portly house-wife’s garment, accessorized with a stuffed purple belt. Emotion overtakes color in Hyunju Kim’s Nubigt, 000, 080, a realistic portrait of a gaunt, warrior-like face. The large blue background cloth has an irregular edge as if it had been violently cut from its source. The strong face with its shadows and contours is machine-stitched over and over in whites and grays to obtain the powerful, sad expression. In this same forlorn vein is Fated Glory, Adrienne Sloane’s knitted version of the American flag. It looked merely torn until I realized the red stripes were hung or falling bodies. Never a Dull Moment by Emily Dvorin was one of the few sculptural pieces, small but intriguing in shape, and even more so in its use of found materials like cable ties, bobby pins, florist wire, and gutter screening. This fascinating assemblage is held together with embroidery techniques. Surface Design Journal

LARRY SCHULTE Flag 5 Acrylic paint, cotton rag paper, painted paper cut into strips and woven, 34" x 34" x 2", 2005. Photo: D. James Dee.

ELAINE LONGTEMPS Extension/Velocity Hand-painted cotton ropes, gessoed cotton canvas, acrylic polymer, pencil grid, knotting, stitching, draping, painting, 106" x 72" x 3", 1972. Photo: D. James Dee.

EMILY DVORIN Never a Dull Moment Gutter screening, cable ties, bobby pins, florist's wire, assemblage and embroidery, 11" x 21" x 12", 2009. Photo: Kate Cameron.

A New York–based organization, TSGNY started with just a few fiber artists meeting in founder Nancy Koenigsberg’s living room. Membership now hovers around 207 and includes artists from other states, as well as Canada and Europe. Kudos to both TSGNY and the Brookfield Group that manages the World Financial Center Courtyard Gallery for all the hard work it takes to present such a large and complex survey of contemporary fiber art. —Nell Znamierowski is a retired textile designer, color consultant, and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She has written about textiles and related subjects since the 1950s. Winter2013

POLLY BARTON Sotto Voce Rayon warp and ikat silk weft, vermillion sumi ink, tapestry and ikat, 51.25" x 53.75" x 1.5", 2006. Photo: Wendy McEahern.


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Surface Design Association History Founded in 1977, the Surface Design Association is an international not-for-profit organization with an office in Sebastopol, California. SDA seeks to raise the level of excellence in textile surface design by inspiring creativity and encouraging innovation through all its undertakings. Our current membership of nearly 4000 national and international members includes independent artists, designers, educators, curators and gallery directors, scientists, industrial technicians, entrepreneurs, and students. Publications and Website Surface Design Journal, the Association’s quarterly magazine, offers in-depth articles on subjects of interest to contemporary textile artists, designers, and other professionals in the field. Each issue is designed around a theme relevant to surface design and offers perceptive commentary unequaled by any other peer publication. Accompanying each article are full-color reproductions of work by leading-edge artists.







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Surface Design Journal - Winter 2013 - Sample Issue  

Check out a sample of our Winter 2013 journal!

Surface Design Journal - Winter 2013 - Sample Issue  

Check out a sample of our Winter 2013 journal!