Part Five – Learning Outcomes/Conclusion

The textiles section of this course was really interesting for me, and we covered a wide range of textile processes and applications. Following the submission of my final paper, it’s time for me to think about my recent learning

Can I demonstrate an awareness of a broad range of contemporary practice in the creative arts?

The textiles section explored a broad range of functional design and artistic applications of this diverse medium. We had opportunities to pursue our own interests and both historical and contemporary applications of textiles. We also touched on how technological advancements are expanding the way textiles are used. Contemporary textile practices I now know a bit about include:

  • Sustainability; increasingly, designers are thinking about the impact of a textile’s entire life cycle, and building sustainable practices into their designs. TED’s TEN offer ten key criteria for designers and makers to adhere to.
  • Brands using increased transparency–pertaining to unknown/hidden materials and processes as a selling point–for example, Everlane and GreenToys, many (upscale) textile brands for babies.
  • The “post-industrial” nostalgia for the pre-industrial, or slow-designed, hand-crafted goods (things not made by machines) and the importance/value added when a purchased good/object comes with a story/narrative about the person who made it, and why, and how.
  • Considering how textiles have evolved over time, from providing primitive human homes and shelters, to offering a way of decorating these homes, to serving religious/spiritual purposes, to so many practical and decorative uses across history, which of course inform trends in contemporary art and craft culture.
    • Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, which I analyzed in my final paper, traces the links the textile arts across Western history and women’s oppression under patriarchy.
  • How textiles (enhanced and/or designed using the latest technology) are applied to architecture to solve functional and/or aesthetic problems, as in Zaha Hadid’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery extension or Yayoi Kusama’s obsessive pattern installations (I pray with all of my love for tulips) or the Bouroullec brothers’ Clouds. 
  • How they’re used in the world of fashion, by designers. We looked at classic, haute couture and contemporary brands and designers and explored how the different qualities of fabric/textiles inform a garment and/or collection. I was particularly interested in the work and approach of Iris Van Herpen.

Can I demonstrate an understanding of the scope and interrelationship of a range of creative disciplines?

Textiles interact almost inevitably with other creative disciplines: as mentioned above, these typically include, but aren’t limited to architecture, photography, design, sculpture and fashion. As the CAT text points out, “textile is rarely the end-product but rather becomes part of a future making process.”

Some posts in my blog that touch on my exploration of how textiles combine and interact with other creative disciplines follow:

Can I demonstrate a knowledge of basic research tools, skills and an awareness of the theoretical background to the creative arts?

I definitely feel my research skills and theoretical awareness improved a lot as we moved through this course. In my last essay–knowing there was a lot of literature in the form of books, articles and reviews on Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party–I felt very comfortable conducting research using the local library’s catalogue, the local museum’s live application ASK, and the UCA Online Library.

I began my research by reading a few articles that seemed quite specifically linked to the subject/work I was interested in, and as I read I made notes about the authors and works cited in those articles. This gave me a great range of research options, although in the end, given such a limited word count and the abundance of writing the artist herself had done about the work in question and her approach to the related subjects of feminism and needlework, I consulted mainly larger works that touched on all the themes concerning my paper.

In terms of theoretical background of the arts, some training I did at the local art museum between January and April 2018 offered me some key lenses through which I could think about American and European art and art criticism, and also some of the main art and critical movements.

For example, a really interesting article I read–but didn’t end up using–in my research for Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party was Fu Chia-Wen Lien’s “The body politics of decoration and handicraft: Re-visioning 1970s feminist art” (available online via UCA Online Library).

Lien described feminist art as a challenge to mainstream modernism, “Greenbergian” (Clement Greenberg was a prominent American art critic and proponent of Abstract Expressionism) criticism, and minimalism. Feminist artists in the 70s responded to the world of “high art” that sought to exclude “mere decoration” by introducing a kind of “maximalist thinking” that sought to break down the divide between “high art” and more crafty/kitschy “low arts” like quilting, embroidering, china painting, etc.

The following extract from her paper brought a lot of things (notably, the link between feminist art and postmodern thought, as reactions to the traditionally male-dominated/exclusive art canon and modernism) together for me:

Screenshot 2018-06-22 22.02.39.png

One goal I had identified as I reflected on my research skills at the end of Section 4 (Photography) was a wish to improve my efficacy as I research. I noticed clear improvement and ease of approach as I moved through the section on textiles, which offered many opportunities for (thorough) research. For the most part, the research I conduct for projects and exercises is limited to online resources; for assignments, I always start with UCA Online and local Brooklyn Public Libraries; I still prefer reading hard copy.

Can I demonstrate an ability to think critically and reflect upon my own learning?

I don’t struggle at all in the area of personal reflection, and I try to constantly apply Dr. Rees’ feedback to future work with OCA. Indeed, when I think about the time I’ve spent at the end of each assignment, thinking about her feedback and how it might be applied, and at the end of each section reviewing my learning log to ensure I’ve truly met all learning outcomes and to provide specific examples of that, I have to conclude that I am capable of thinking critically about my strengths, weaknesses and learning through this course and related pursuits.

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