Orly Genger, “The Admirer,” Narrative Threads: Fiber Art Today, January 13 – May 13, 2023, Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. Photo by Sean Fleming.

Narrative Threads: Fiber Art Today

Spring 2023 | Seasonal Exhibition

January 13 - May 13, 2023
Moody Center for the Arts
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Celebrating a new generation of international artists at the forefront of fiber arts, Narrative Threads: Fiber Art Today includes work by twenty-two artists including Igshaan Adams, Hangama Amiri, Felipe Baeza, Diedrick Brackens, Josh Faught, Christina Forrer, Orly Genger, Ana María Hernando, Woomin Kim, Eric N. Mack, María Nepomuceno, Ernesto Neto, Nnenna Okore, Patrick Quarm, Chiharu Shiota, Do Ho Suh, Sagarika Sundaram, Ardeshir Tabrizi, Marie Watt, Qualeasha Wood, Billie Zangewa, and Sarah Zapata.

The artists featured in the exhibition speak to contemporary issues of identity, gender, race, sexuality, and power through a medium with deep, multicultural roots that predate written history. Narrative Threads explores this practice, specifically the ways in which fiber-based media can communicate both personal and political issues, through a selection of works that can be read as simultaneously autobiographical and socially critical.

For several featured artists, who identify as women, LGBTQ+, and persons of color, textiles are often seen as carriers of cultural meaning that have the power to expand the breadth of voices represented in art and draw attention to personal experiences and histories of repression. Diedrick Brackens and Igshaan Adams, for example, explore themes of identity through autobiographical works such as the pondkeepers (2020), and Versperring (Barrier) (2020).

Malawian artist Billie Zangewa stitches together fragments of raw silk in her delicate textile collages, often depicting everyday scenes as a means of highlighting the unseen identities of women in domestic settings, while subtly critiquing male-centered, capitalist societies, as in Body and Soul. Also engaging with the traditionally overlooked history of domestic activities, Orly Genger elevates the craft and community-building qualities of weaving through a large-scale outdoor installation.

On a more intimate scale, a selection of thread drawings by international artists Felipe Baeza, Chiharu Shiota, and Ardeshir Tabrizi, stresses the fiber-based character of both paper and thread, blurring the line between applied string and the drawn or painted image on the surface. 

Bringing together works that are experiential, fragmentary, and fundamentally tactile, Narrative Threads invites viewers to consider new perspectives through diverse lenses.

The exhibition will be activated through a season of performances in the galleries and in the Moody’s Lois Chiles Theater. The spring programming schedule kicks off on January 27 with a one-night-only performance of Honor written by Houston-born artist Suzanne Bocanegra and featuring actor Lili Taylor. The season also includes an original performative response to the exhibition orchestrated by artist and theater director Doug Fitch, on April 21, as a part of the Moody’s signature Dimensions Variable series.

Narrative Threads is curated by Alison Weaver, Executive Director, Frauke V. Josenhans, Curator, and Molly Everett, Assistant Curator, of the Moody Center for the Arts. The exhibition is designed by world: Xiaoxi Chen, Frank J. Mondragón, and Alejandro Stein

Narrative Threads is made possible by the Moody Center for the Arts Founders Circle and the Elizabeth Lee Moody Excellence Fund for the Arts.