By Isabel Chaparro
Hale Ekinci. Untitled (2022), Embroidery Painting.
More often than not, handcrafted textile art is immediately associated with a grandma in a rocking chair knitting or as a picture of sexism and domesticated women. Interestingly however, post-pandemic social media has seen an influx of female identifying individuals reconnecting with textile works. It’s become common to meet someone who is passionate about crochet, knitting, lacemaking, etc. Even I am now a crocheter as a result of needing a pandemic hobby.
However, what I find especially interesting regarding the resurgence of textile art is that with it has grown a unique intersection in feminism. Rather than the depiction of female domesticity, there is a growing sentiment around textile art as a celebration of Women’s work. It rejects the reinforcement of patriarchal values and instead, young textile artists are emphasizing ‘Women’s work’ as inherently valuable. Textile art has been used for social activism countless times historically and this time around is simply a modernized version.
Even more exciting to learn, is that this resurgence puts emphasis on promoting intersectional feminism. Textile/fiber arts have never been restricted to specific regions and has long been a bonding factor between women globally. That trend has continued. It promotes the work of ALL women as invaluable. The beauty of textile arts is its versatility. Women of all identities are able to be creative and gain the support of other creatives. In my opinion, this is the most amazing part of this trend. Textile arts are both the past, present, and hopefully, future; and illustrate, visually, long traditions shared between women as a form of rebellion and feminine connection. Through the art comes exploration of queerness, sexual assault, addiction, racism, environmentalism, and other social movements.
Personally, this growing emphasis on female power, activism, and community is something necessary in maintaining a sustainable intersectional feminist movement. I think that this form of it is invaluable to building feminine bonds and strength. It is accessible, diverse, and a beautifully powerful way of continuing activism via daily life and in simple hobbies.
If you’re interested in learning more Elena Kanagy-Loux is a New York-based lacemaker who often uses lacemaking to educate around lace/textile history, and its place in the feminist movement via TikTok and Instagram (@erenanaomi). Her content is a great place to start!