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Finding Inspiration at The Met

This spring, I took the train down to New York City for an inspiration day. I wanted to visit The Met for their Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art exhibition. This exhibit expertly combines two bodies of work. The first is the work of four modern artists – Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Olga de Amaral. The other part of the exhibit has textile pieces from Andean artists from the first millennium BCE to the 16th century. The exhibit features more than 50 works, and according to The Met, “this cross-historical exhibition offers new insights into the emergence of abstract imagery.”

The exhibition notes explain, “Each of the four modern artists featured developed innovative approaches to an ancient medium through deep study of Andean techniques. Shown together, these ancient and modern weavings reposition the place of textiles in global art history.” Viewers can enter the long, rectangular gallery from either end, starting with either the ancient textiles or the modern. Yet, the moment where they meet, the two categories of work blend and viewers are left wondering which is ancient and which is modern.

Two photos side by side showing the entrances to The Met's exhibit Weaving Abstraction in  ancient and Modern art.
Entrances from both sides.

Inspiration and Information

As a weaver, I’ve always appreciated how structurally complex Andean textiles are. Viewing them in this exhibit, through the lens of abstract art, added a whole new level of appreciation. They weren’t just making functional textiles and garments to serve a purpose. They were using the limitations of the loom to create modern and abstract images to add beauty and style to their textiles.

Two photos side by side of Andean textiles.
Two examples of Andean textiles.

On the modern art side of the exhibit, it was fascinating to have the work of these four artists all in one room. Seeing Anni Albers’ precise weavings, next to Sheila Hicks’ expansive and loose pieces, highlighted their very different approaches to fiber.  Yet, both took inspiration from the same reference points.

Two photos side by side, one showing a woven piece by Anni Albers, the other an art piece by Sheila Hicks.

This show had me thinking a lot about how inspiration arrives and how it percolates for people. Rarely is there a straight line between inspiration and the final product. It’s all about learning, observing, and absorbing. In our culture of busy often equaling productive, it can be tempting to fill your time constantly. But, if you want to be inspired, you need to allow the time and space for inspiration to find you. One of our team’s favorite ways to do that, is with an inspiration day.

All photos taken by Kristin Crane.

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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