Great Washington Museums: The Textile Museum

Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists is a NMWA-organized collaborative city-wide project highlighting works by women artists. During 2012, institutions throughout the Washington area are featuring an array of signature works by women artists that have enriched their distinguished collections. This landmark program, in conjunction with NMWA’s 25th anniversary celebration, continues NMWA’s dedication to celebrating women’s achievements in the visual, performing, and literary arts. This excerpt explores one of the Textile Museum’s signature works by a woman artist, Polly Barton’s Arab Spring. Visit NMWA and download the pdf map to begin your journey!

Polly Barton; Arab Spring, 2011; Woven silk (double ikat technique), 92 x 16 ½ in., Courtesy of the artist; Photograph by Wendy McEahern

Polly Barton; Arab Spring, 2011; Woven silk (double ikat technique), 92 x 16 ½ in., Courtesy of the artist; Photograph by Wendy McEahern

Trained in Japan, Barton uses delicate silk threads, traditional dyeing techniques, and a narrow kimono loom to create luminous works of textile art. She painstakingly resist-dyes yarns prior to weaving, a technique known as ikat. Arab Spring was inspired by a Mamluk carpet woven in late-15th century Egypt, now in The Textile Museum collection. Barton felt “transported and displaced” by the carpet’s sensuous and refined color palette, as though she were “falling through the threads.” Woven of sheer, lustrous silk dyed in jewel colors, Arab Spring reveals varying patterns in different lights, carrying forward the idea of movement, travel, and the gesture of the artist’s journey. On view March 23–August 12, 2012.

The Textile Museum, 2320 S  St., NW;