Making something with your hands can make life magical. It gives you the possibility to take life stories and transform them into works of art. Leanne Prain’s book “Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles” is full of such examples.
Sewn narrations such as The Bayeux Tapestry, Indian kanthas, Chilean arpilleras, Hmong story cloth, and underground railroad quilts suggest that the theme of women’s art focuses on the everyday, love for the family, self-esteem, bonding and emotions in general. Crafting is often a catharsis that permits women to create a mental Space of One’s Own.
“Strange Material” explores the relationship between craft and the need to express one’s self by showcasing a number of contemporary artists who tell stories through textiles. There are colored photos on every page accompanied by related text. Thanks to this blog, I am familiar with most of the artists. But, grouped together as in this book, individual statements are more effective because they are expressed collectively.
Some of my favorites:
The book is broken down into three basic parts: stories about contemporary artists who use craft for storytelling, instructions for projects based on the work of a particular artist and “prompts”, suggestions for activating your creativity. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. The only criticism I can make is that maybe too many pages were dedicated for project instructions.
Related links: Bordamos Feminicidios + Sujani embroidery from Bihar + Amazwi Abesifazane Voices of Women + The rise of craftivism: Weaving together the political and the deeply personal + Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meanings of Madness + Isobel Gunn + Leanne Prain
And please read my article on Craftivism: Activism Using Craft