Stories of Migration

On my visit to the Textile Museum I was also able to see a wonderful SAQA exhibit called Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora. As described on the SAQA website:

All works reflect upon the theme of “Diaspora.” Diaspora is the dispersion of a people from an established ancestral homeland. These communities remain simultaneously active in social, economic, cultural, or political processes in their country of origin and with compatriots worldwide.

A migration of peoples from their ancestral homeland impacts every aspect of their life.  The sudden displacement of large populations and the ensuing establishment of resettlement centers to provide basic human needs — food, clothing, shelter, health services, and safety (particularly that of women and children) — often requires a worldwide response.

We all know that fiber art is best seen in person, and that certainly holds true for these works. The stitching and the dimensional nature of some of the pieces adds tremendously to their impact. If you live near enough to visit I highly recommend going to see it before it closes on September 4, 2016.

Here’s a small sampling of works that particularly struck me. Usually I’m more drawn to pieces that are not dimensional beyond the texture of the quilting, but several of the more sculptural pieces really grabbed me. Many of the pieces are rather subdued in color, perhaps reflecting the serious nature of displacement. That said, I apologize in advance to the artists if the color is off in these photos.

This is a detail of Detained Denied Displaced by Gloria Daly. Her piece references the internment of Japanese Canadians during WWII. In her words “Each mark represents one of the over 23,000 displaced persons, the pain of separation, and the lives affected.”  Seeing all of her individually made marks is quite thought provoking

detained denied displaced gloria daly
Detail: Detained Denied Displaced ©Gloria Daly

These carefully made figures instantly caught my eye. Susan Else says of her work “This piece started with a metaphor: some areas of the world seem to be intractable knots in the fabric of our common humanity. Decades of injury and counter-injury pull the snarl tighter, and outside interests add to the tangle with arms and support for warring factions. Eventually, individuals caught up in the web have nothing to lose by leaving: there is no future for them if they stay.”

crossing points SUSAN else
Detail Crossing Points ©Susan Else

Sandra Lauterbach’s moving Wailing Wall of Krakow depicts the wall around Remuh Cemetery in Krakow, Poland, where her family lived before WWII. She says “The tombstones were destroyed during the war. In the 1950s, tombstone fragments were recovered and cobbled together to form a wall around the cemetery — a poignant memorial.”

detail wailing wall of krakow sandra lauterbach
Detail of Wailing Wall of Krakow ©Sandra Lauterbach

Daniela Tiger’s On the Path is heart wrenching and technically extraordinary. This is just a small portion of it, as I couldn’t adequately photograph the entire piece and I fear the color is off in this image. Here’s an excerpt from her artist statement:

“My people have been forced to leave their ancestral homelands for as long as history has been recorded. Moving towards an uncertain destiny as the story is written, without more than crackers in their pockets. In my work, I am attempting to create a narrative of a people on the move, some tired, some drained of all energy. And yet, some remain hopeful, searching into the horizon for some sign of welcome.”

on the path daniela tiger
Detail On the Path ©Daniela Tiger

Nancy Bardach’s Ad Infinitum tells a story of refugees. “Past, present, and future tents — the interrupted lives of migrant refugees. Somber colors and dark surroundings reflect dire conditions. Relatively more colorful doorways and people lingering beyond open flaps suggest the continuing light and hope within.”

ad infinitum nancy bardach
Ad Infinitum ©Nancy Bardach

Finally, this large piece by Sara Rockinger is amazing. Along with the life size empty clothes a video is projected on them that changes the look of the entire work. An excerpt from her artist statement: “How and where does my life intersect with someone whom I never met, someone I don’t know? What do we share? How do we change as a result?” Wow! This has to be seen in person.

In slash Visible Sara Rockinger
In/Visible ©Sara Rockinger

If you have the opportunity you should definitely see this exhibit.


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