As a textile and installation artist one of my many interests lies in working with the fusion of texts, images and textures of many cultures for creating cloths of compassion.
When Levi asked me to work with him on this project I asked him what was the most important feeling that he wanted to convey for The Jewish Museum. He replied that he was inspired by the Hanukkah lamp collection and he also wanted to create garments based on the Torah’s material culture: the scriptures on parchment, mantles, and crowns. He wanted to convey the idea that the garments are sacred and empowering to whomever wears them. Torah teaches light, joy, creativity, peace, and love.
We printed the following poem by the Persian poet Rumi on the linings of the garments:
Love gives Joy to all Creations
Love is what gives Joy to giving Joy!
I was born from Mother at the Beginning!
The Arabic was translated by Levi’s sample maker Sam who is of Arab descent and Levi translated it phonetically into Yiddish.
One of the interesting aspects of this process was the cross pollination of other cultures. Levi translated it to Yiddish. But instead of writing it in the usual way Yiddish would be written from right to left. He took poetic license and wrote it vertically similar to the way Asian calligraphy would be written. I wanted the color of the Arabic to be blue like the sky and sea….endless space. The letters of the Yiddish is the color of red clay.
Life is always full of surprises. The first one was finding out the colors had been reversed. The second one was realizing the inks that had been used on the parachute fabric were not correct. There was also a challenging moment when the ink began to peel off the fabric.
Levi and I looked at each other and simultaneously thought of a technique that might solve this problem.
Many fabrics that I have created utilize this technique.
We fused with heat transparent organza on the parachute fabric which allowed for there to be visual clarity of the writings while preserving the silkscreened fabric that was chipping. This gave us a new dimension in regards to texture and weight of fabric.
The fused fabric’s properties are very different than a lighter fabric.
We were able to add color to the fusion fabric which gave a new depth to the doves, menorahs, peace symbols and Yiddish texts.
We were happy with our new discoveries……then one new variable occurred. The veil of organza which had been fused to the parachute fabric was peeled away. Andy stood there and proclaimed: “The Museum has a new Dead Sea Scroll fragment.”
When the organza which had been heat sealed parted from the parachute fabric to disclose our process, we observed that the more you carefully peel away the fabric, both sides of the print are left on the two different materials.
Now our wonderful taffetta-like dress has yet another new element: the fluidity of the printed transluscent organzas…….which is part of the many levels of transparencies needed to make the interconnection for peace.
This 2-week open studio project features 11 artists in fashion, music, performance art and video. One regular admission ticket gets you in Sunday - Thursday to watch works-in-progress, meet artists, and attend concerts, salons, runway show, poetry slam, and parties.