Tuesday, August 31, 2010

handmade cloth as interactive art

A friend and artist, Tali Weinberg uses dye, cloth, and art in order to champion to social causes and connect people from all over the world through craft. Her newest art piece based upon carmine dye from cochineal bugs will be showing on One Washington Place from Sept. 10 - 23.

I'm so glad she's doing what she loves while using her art for good. From the website:

I would like to invite you to participate in an artwork that will be part of a show to raise awareness about violence in Juarez, Mexico. This particular piece refers to the maquiladoras (sweatshops), the violence against women they have fueled, and existing alternatives – and it relies on your participation to be complete.
Over the months leading up to the show I have been dyeing tens of thousands of yards of organic cotton, silk, and wool with cochineal—a tiny insect from Oaxaca that produces a powerful red dye. I’m using this yarn to weave a number of blankets, pillows, and scarves for an installation that will take place in September. I am documenting this process of dyeing and weaving and will share this with you as I go. The gallery installation itself includes a space in which you can interact with the pillows and blankets handwoven from the dyed yarn as well as an area where I will be weaving a blanket out of the dyed yarn over the two-week period.
So what is the meaning of this piece and why cochineal?:
The installation's title: "The males have wings while it is the females whose bodies are crushed to extract their red dye. But red is also the color of the sun."
The cochineal insect has been used for its red dye for at least 1000 years in Mexico, Central and South America. It produces what is considered to be the best natural red dye in the world, used in everything from textile dyes and paint pigments to food coloring and cosmetics. The female insects contain carminic acid, which acts to protect her from certain predators while she is fertile. It is the carminic acid that also produces such a powerful red dye.
In the 1500s the dye became an important trade good under Colonialism, first exported from Mexico by the Spanish. It is one part of the history of colonial and capitalist exploitation of resources, people, and knowledge from the region.
This process of making contains a dual metaphor. It is a visualization of the violence that often lies behind the products we consume (even objects made for our own comfort and security). It is simultaneously a visualization of an alternative: a hand production process that brings together producer and consumer and that has thoughtfully considered the network of people and materials that make up the production of this particular object of comfort and intimacy (The materials I use in this case are organic or natural and come from small-scale producers and through personal relationships wherever possible).
The color red itself offers the potential of multiple meanings for the viewer. Throughout history it has symbolized power and strength; sin; anger; courage; warning; and love and intimacy. And for Aztecs, red is the color of the sun.

Go to the website to watch time-lapse videos on the dyeing and weaving processes.

And once you pledge to this cause, Tali will you send you handmade, hand-dyed yarn and other great pieces. Beautiful!


  1. Thanks very much for the good work am inspired
    i would like to be part of the exhibition to

  2. Hi! well you can find out more about the installation at http://www.taliweinberg.wordpress.com/
    including locations and scheduling.