Images of Motherhood in Textiles and Fiber Art
Figurative work often explores the narrative of the personal, the relationships that make or break our lives and our world order. Motherhood, as a theme, tends to luck out on the spectrum of emotions. Equated with the generous and tender roles of guardians, protectors, teachers, they warm the heart. Those of us who are mothers or who have them, know that these relationships are much more complex. I suspect that artists who explore these moments of suspended time, of that embrace, kiss or look, are probing those layers of meaning with each stitch, cut and tuck. By the time they are finished, some kind of resolution, acceptance and honoring has happened.
Society demands purity from motherhood: The mother who does not serve as a guardian to her children is a broken vessel. Something must be wrong with her genes! Nature has a powerful, inbuilt drive that should make all mothers spread their wings around their little ones. Fortunately, most of us do find that balance and rhythm where mother and child is a safe space. Parenting, for both mothers and fathers, involves years of tedious, thankless tasks, hard work, financial commitments, hope and patience. So, we have a couple of days a year where we give recognition to the mothers around us, those women who shape our social fabric.
The textiles shown in this post are typical works for each of the artists. All of them capture a moment in time, a frozen action that tells a story. The characters do not need names or a long explanation about what is going on. We see it and identify immediately with the emotion. Make sure to click on the images to visit their profiles on TAFA. There, you will find their stories and their links.
We have an aging population in the United States as the baby boomers approach their 60’s and 70’s. This is also true in our textile and fiber art community. Many of the leaders who paved the way for our contemporary understanding and use of textiles in the art world are retiring and even dying. Motherhood takes on a new significance as the adults who were once babies now become the protectors and guardians of their mothers and fathers.
All of the traditional textile and needlework techniques that were once focused on the functional have been used to portray great emotion and powerful bonds. I find that textiles move me the most, more than any other medium, when used figuratively. Perhaps the softness, the ability to wrap and bend, fold, wear and wash these threads…. they just seem personal and intimate. I love all of the art forms, but images of motherhood in textiles seem to be the most excellent fit.
Animals as Mothers
We want and get the same nurturing and protective spirit from our non-human animals. I found one of my dogs years ago, torn up and pregnant. She had been used as bait in dog fighting and has issues with other dogs. She had seven puppies in my Chicago apartment and it was amazing to watch her rear them. Gentle and sweet… I asked the vet how a dog who had been so hurt could be so good to her babies. He answered that she had learned how to be nurturing from her mother. It gave me great comfort to think that this poor dog had started out with love and was probably able to come back to it because that state of existence was still in her core.
Mother’s Day is coming up and we thank all of you mothers for your hard work, for your tenderness, kindness, and the investment you have made in your children! We hope that you will spoiled and pampered on your day!
Still shopping for a gift?
You can support our TAFA members and buy something wonderful that is handmade with love! Most likely, the maker is also a mother! Where you can find great gifts:
Our sister site, ArtizanMade (check out the Features and Shops on Etsy)
Happy Mother’s Day!
Ann Dunbar has developed her own technique of embroidery on water color paper. She lives near Paris and is inspired by landscapes, flowers, and city lights.View Profile
- Artist, Organization
Silvia Piza-Tandlich has exhibited her work around the world and runs Galeria Octagono in Costa Rica. Community oriented, all of her work is made by hand, often inspired by themes drawn on from Latin American mythology.View Profile
- Textile Artist, Workshops
Elena Ulyanova has a passion for eco and botanical dye processes and has taught her methods in many European countries. Originally from the Ukraine, she now lives in Poland. She sells upcycled garments and accessories that she dyes on Etsy.View Profile
- Textile Artist
Laura Lee Burch is an American artist and author living in Israel. Her current passion lies in needle felting animals and people with humor and sometimes, a message. She welcomes special commissions of her work.View Profile
- Weaving- Home Textiles and Fashion Accessories
Mayamam Weavers, a fair trade cooperative of women in Cajolá, Guatemala, specializes in home textiles and fashion accessories.View Profile
Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts: Festival schedule and a nice display of what's available in her Etsy shop.View Profile
- Asian Folk Art
Turkish Folk Art has an exceptional online shop featuring Central Asian textiles and crafts. While most are vintage, they also support village artisans working in traditional techniques.View Profile
Driven by colour and obsessed with her love/hate relationship with the creative process, Heidi lives to dye...and dies to quilt. She lives in Canada where she stirs up all kinds of fun! She also runs with scissors...View Profile
Gini Holmes is a mixed media artist who explores new technologies with traditional media. Her work seeks to provoke thought and discussion. She partners with artist Sandy Scott in a line of adornments for body and home, Venus d’Pyro.View Profile
Ann Ridge sews and sells vintage textiles on Etsy. She specializes in a Korean technique, Chogapko, and her own crazy quilt style. Ann lives in Spain and welcomes commissions.View Profile
Hand-dyed, knit and sewn scarves by Jane Porter. Jane works with a fair trade weaving group in India who provide her with many of the scarves she dyes.View Profile
- Publication, Organization
Fiber Art Now is an exciting print & digital magazine for contemporary textiles & fiber arts. The Network offers opportunities for exhibition, education and more!View Profile
- Fair Trade
HoonArts is a Fair Trade effort representing hand-crafted gifts and accessories from Tajikistan and other Central Asian Silk Road countries.View Profile
Folkwear Patterns are based on authentic ethnic and vintage garments, used by theatre and dance costumers, historic reenactors, art-to-wear aficionados, and anyone who enjoys dressing up.View Profile
- Artist, Supplies
Based in Sacramento, California (USA) Barbetta Lockart Contemporary Art – ITSA Studio showcase mixed media art by Barbetta and a rich assortment of supplies from around the world. ITSA Studio has a large selection of ethnic and tribal beads and textiles.View Profile
- MarketPlace: Handwork of India
MarketPlace: Handwork of India, empowering women and breaking the cycle of poverty! Fair Trade and handmade, long-lasting elegance!View Profile
- Weaver, Designer, Artist
Cat Brysch Creations Studio has been weaving yardage for artists for years! Check out her studio and shop from her on Etsy.View Profile
- Gallery, Wholesaler
Afghan Tribal Arts Beads and Textiles, natural gemstones from Afghanistan and vintage textiles, following a regular show route in Southeastern USA.View Profile
- Artist, Teacher
Jane Dunnewold is an artist, teacher and author of surface design techniques. She teaches and lectures internationally and at her studio in San Antonio, Texas.View Profile
- School, Workshops
The Pacific Northwest Art School offers workshops and classes in Fiber Arts, Mixed Media, Painting, and Photography. Whidbey Island, Washington, USA.View Profile
Ann Robinson Textiles weaves beautiful handwoven accessories and dyes the fibers she uses to create fabrics. Her woven art complements classic wardrobes as well as contemporary home and office settings.View Profile
Folt Bolt is Kriszta Kemény’s exceptional effort at promoting artists and the handmade community. She runs curated collections on her website and has developed an active and successful community through her Facebook page.View Profile