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Susan Avila image

Saturday, January 17, 2015, 10am Lecture Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum

Textile Art bridges many disciplines, linking craft, art, design, and technology through the research, creation, and presentation of material culture. Susan Taber Avila’s work promotes sustainability through the reclamation of pre-consumer and post-consumer waste; utilizes technology through digital textile printing and the exploration of new materials and techniques; invokes history and ethnographic influences through the exploration of traditional hand processes; and promotes global awareness of textile art, surface design, and fashion through liaisons with an international audience.

Avila’s work explores new methods and materials to not only develop new textile structures but to interlock meaning within the structure. While stitching is often used for surface embellishment (embroidery) or joining materials, Avila’s work is unique in that she simultaneously develops both the structure and surface of an object through the stitching process. She is committed to stitching because this ubiquitous method, prevalent throughout history, still has something new to say. The stitch creates a mark, adds color, and defines the structure. Stitching allows her to piece together remnants from fashion and interior design industry and create objects of beauty from textiles that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Her work often utilizes a water soluble substrate to recycle and reuse discarded materials, giving new life to these scraps within a stitched organization.

Within this technological framework, Avila creates sardonic series and objects around conceptually specific themes. For example, Byzantine Las Vegas explores the cultural intersections of Las Vegas and Byzantium; Shoe Stories reflects on the implied meanings of shoes, their associations, and stereotypes; and Oh Naturale includes work inspired by nature, especially the organization and perception of nature by humans. The pieces in TEXT/iles perpetuate a long standing tradition of textiles as text.

This talk provides a glimpse into her life in stitches, covering product and process, content, and context.

Susan Taber Avila is an artist, Professor and Chair of Design at the University of California, Davis, and a Chutian Scholar at Wuhan Textile University in Wuhan, China. She has exhibited work in Argentina, China, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Mexico, Swaziland, and the UK as well as numerous exhibitions in the United States. Her artwork is included in several books and periodicals and she has published articles in Fiberarts, Ornament, and Surface Design Journal. From 1999-2010 she was the co-creator of the website,

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