What Lies Beneath: Women, Politics, TextilesFebruary 17, 2022 - August 28, 2022
What Lies Beneath: Women, Politics, Textiles brings together a multi-generational, international group of women artists and collectives, using textiles to comment on politics and society. Traditionally, the history of textiles is the history of women’s work. Whether hung over beds, laid on floors or worn on the body, textiles have a unique ability to communicate collective histories and individual stories. Over time and continents, this tradition has evolved. From Chilean arpilleras to quilts from the American South, textiles have become a powerful way to shape identity, build community and prompt political action.
The exhibition brings together key works from the permanent collection by Miriam Schapiro, Permindar Kaur and Francisca Aninat, alongside major loans from artists and galleries. It features recent work by the Chilean feminist art collective, Memorarte, and the Tejedoras de Mampuján, winners of the Colombian National Peace Prize. It includes new work by Nengi Omuku, Anya Paintsil and Enam Gbewonyo, which blend traditional and experimental techniques, as well as important 20th-century pieces by Nicola L. and Stella Mae Pettway of the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers.
The artists in this exhibition use a range of techniques such as appliqué, knitting, quilting, rug-hooking, collage and fabric-painting. Many of these draw on traditional craft practices that have been passed down through the generations, from mother to daughter or in sewing groups. The works on display make powerful statements about gender, race and class. They confront issues ranging from global human rights abuses to the artists’ personal experiences of living in the world. The exhibition’s title is drawn from the work of Enam Gbewonyo. It evokes the practical use of textile pieces — quilts covering beds and rugs covering floors — while also pointing to the political subtext of the works and their multiple layers of meaning.
Artists: Miriam Schapiro, Permindar Kaur, Francisca Aninat, Enam Gbewonyo, Nengi Omuku, Anya Paintsil, Memorarte, Stella Mae Pettway (Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers), Nicola L., Tejedoras de Mampuján
Curated by Naomi Polonsky and Lorna Dillon with Koni Borowiak, Laura Moseley, Annie Roberts and Francesca Vella Bonnici
Exhibition design by Sally Coleman, installation by Wilf Speller and Erika Lewis