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The 10th International Shibori Symposium

By Beatrijs Sterk, former publisher of Textile Forum Magazine and founder and secretary general of the European Textile Network (ETN) until May 2015. She currently writes for the Textile Forum Blog, where she published a longer version of this post with additional photographs.

The symposium, “10iss,” in Oaxaca, Mexico November 16-20, 2016, attracted nearly 300 participants from every continent. The majority were from the US (140), Japan (45), Mexico (17) and Australia (15). The program organized by the World Shibori Network under the direction of co-chairs Yoshiko Wada and Alejandro de Ávila in collaboration with the directors and architects of the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, Museo de Textil Oaxaca, Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (CASA), and Centro Cultural San Pablo, was comprehensive. It was difficult to select among the lectures and even more difficult to stick to my selections as the time keeping in the three lecture rooms was somewhat relaxed. In contrast, the many different exhibition openings and celebrations were perfectly organized.

Yoshiko Wada (right) and Alejandro de Ávila at the opening of the 10th International Shibori Symposium.

Our Mexican hosts were very keen to illustrate all the living textile arts still in existence in Mexico. The demonstration of costumes at the opening met with great admiration. In the Textile Museum, curator Alejandro de Ávila had arranged the “World of Shibori and Ikat” exhibition in combination with “To Spin the Wind – The Plumed Weavings of Mexico,” co-curated by Hector Meneses. A textile market of very high quality was held in the courtyard off the Centro Cultural San Pablo, with weavings and embroideries from the surroundings of Oaxaca and various parts of Mexico.

Impression from the opening ceremony of the 10th International Shibori Symposium in the lecture hall of the Centro Cultural San Pedro, next to the Textile Museum of Oaxaca.Jack Lenor Larsen, textile designer and Fellow of the Textile Society of America, speaking at the opening of the Symposium.

The lectures I attended included a presentation on tie-dyeing techniques used around the Mediterranean by Françoise Cousin, the former textile curator of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, and an equally informative talk by Alejandro de Ávila on resist dyeing in Mexican history. Marta Turok spoke on 30 years of protecting the purple snails and new strategies for saving this dyeing technique. There were several lectures on the rebozo shawl, with Yosi Anaya providing insights into its occurrence in contemporary Mexican art. Ana Paula Fuentes gave an enthusiastic talk on living textile traditions and artisan groups. French dyer Michel Garcia spoke on inspiring antique traditions – natural dyes on fiber. His workshops were greatly in demand.

I listened to Hiroko Watanabe’s talk on her traveling exhibition of Japanese textile art. Hiroshi Murase, a highly enthusiastic shibori dyer recounted an attempt to replicate a dyed object from the textile museum of Oaxaca (Tejido Ammarodo Skirt) using ancient techniques from the Japanese town of Arimatsu.

Among the many demonstrations, I liked the “Four Selvedge Scaffold Weaving of Pre-Columbia” by Jim Bassler and Catharine Ellis who addressed their subject with a great deal of knowledge and wit.

  Catharine Ellis and Jim Bassler addressed their subject with a great deal of knowledge and wit.

Furthermore I was impressed with weaver and dyer Jacobo Mendoza from Teotitlán del Valle who, with the help of his entire family, demonstrated the complete production process of the finely woven carpets, beginning with spinning and dyeing using natural materials.

Weaver and dyer Jacobo Mendoza from Teotitlán del Valle and his family, demonstrating at the Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca.

Aside from lectures, demonstrations, workshops and various exhibitions spread across Oaxaca, the organizers mounted a major exhibition “Contemporary Art of Shibori and Ikat” combined with “Wearable Art of Shibori” – at CASA, the Centro de las Artes de San Agustín. The works were presented well considering that there were many to fit into the large space.

Although the standard of the submissions varied greatly, they included a number of new works I liked by Jim Bassler, Mascha Mioni, Mary Zicafoose, Barbara Zaretsky, Sandra Clark, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Sheri McNerthney, Susan Taber Avila, Åsa Pärson, Catharine Ellis, Barbara Rogers, Wendy Weiss and Yosi Anaya. Two smaller shows of kimonos and clothing presented in adjacent rooms of CASA, complemented the juried exhibition and as a whole left a very good impression. A catalog is available for purchase.

Mary Zicafoose, Mountain for the Buddha, 2015; work in the exhibition “Contemporary Art of Shibori and Ikat.”

Organized by an extremely hard-working team, the symposium was a true feast for the eyes for everyone fortunate enough to be there!