Thursday, October 15, 2015
Surface Design Association conference 2
Another presenter whom I enjoyed getting to know at the SDA conference was Laura Sansone, who teaches at Parsons The New School for Design and has started a project called The Textile Lab, intended to raise awareness among fashion students and the public about natural dyes and local textile production.
In addition, she is trying to encourage local textile production among small farmers along the Hudson Valley north of the city. New York has many alpaca farms, as well as sheep, and leather can be made from the hides collected at meat slaughterhouses. Laura sees many similarities between the local food movement and local textiles, to improve quality and foster economic development and environmental sustainability.
Laura wants to encourage designers to become more aware both of local production and of reuse and recycling. Her classes work closely with Green Eileen, a venture that collects and resells Eileen Fisher garments; a favorite activity is to use (locally produced, of course) wool roving to needlefelt over holes in garments as a combination of decoration and functional mending.
Laura is a smart and dynamic artist and teacher, and I liked hanging out in her workshop and playing with needlefelting. Here's my (sadly) unfinished work of art.
You can't feed the United States from local truck farms, nor can you clothe us from local sheep. (Among other things, we probably don't want to wear all that much wool, especially in the summertime.) And even if we could produce enough stuff to go around, most of the people couldn't afford the clothes or the food unless the farmers worked for slave wages. Nor do I suspect that most of the people in the US could afford to buy resold Eileen Fisher clothes, even though they cost less than they did the first time around. (The website provides no price info, just says they're "affordable.")
I hate to be so cynical in the face of such vigor and enthusiasm but maybe I'm just too old to get thrilled at hey-kids-let's-put-on-a-show projects. I know that change often starts with small local efforts and sometimes gathers enough momentum to have much larger impact. But I don't think all the carrot tops in the world are going to ever replace Procion. Whether we should even want them to is another issue.
What do you think? Am I being too curmudgeonly?