The Textile Study Group of New York (TSGNY) began in 1977, as a monthly gathering of six student fiber-artist friends who wanted to continue sharing news‚ resources, criticism, and inspiration.
TSGNY's emphasis on diversity is reflected in the textile-related activities of its members. The list includes artists' representatives, basket makers, book artists, collectors, conservators, crocheters, curators, dealers, dyers, embroiderers, felters, historians, knitters, knotters, lace makers, paper makers, quilters, sculptors, spinners, students, surface designers, teachers, wearable artists, weavers, and writers.
We recently caught up with Nancy Koenigsburg, one of the founding members, who is still very involved in this influential group.
1. Tell us about some of the activities the TSGNY is involved in and the projects it undertakes.
The TSGNY meets monthly from September through June with a speaker on some aspect of textiles - an artist, historian, curator, etc. These meetings are open to the membership and the public. A broad range of techniques and theories are covered. We have had a good number of juried exhibitions by our members, which have frequently been reviewed in national textile magazines.
This past winter two exhibitions celebrated our 35th anniversary - 9x9x3, juried by Janet Koplos, and Crossing Lines, juried by Rebecca Stevens. 9x9x3 was composed of identical boxes measuring 9” by 9” by 3” with the work contained totally within the box. Crossing Lines, at the World Financial Center, contained works both large and small and was seen by over 5,000 people. This included students, curators, collectors and the general public. For many people, this exhibition was groundbreaking in terms of textiles as art.
Our members exhibit and teach all over the US, Europe and Asia. During the recent Fiber Philadelphia 2012 Biennial, our members were represented in several galleries and juried exhibitions. Among the techniques represented are quilting, dying, weaving, paper-making, knitting, crocheting, jewelry, felting, beading, appliqué, photo processing and all of the combinations therein. Members are working in wool, silk, linen, copper, steel, beads and found materials. Many also teach and lecture to other groups.
2. Share something about the roots of when TSGNY was formed, its inception and how it has evolved over time.
The Textile Study Group of New York was formed in September of 1977 by five people who had studied at the New School, a college in New York City. Our instructor was Gail Wimmer who had studied at Tyler and in Poland. Most of us were with her for three years. When she announced in the spring of 1977 that she was leaving New York for a tenured position at the University of Arizona we were happy for her, but sad for us. When one woman asked, "What will we do now?" Gail replied "Just go in your studios and work and if you want to get together once in a while, do that.”
Indeed, we got together that following September. Our meeting engendered such interesting discussions and connections that we decided to meet the next month. We have been doing that every month from September through June ever since. –35 Years of collegial critique, group discussions and learning!!
After the first year or so we decided that assigning projects and having critiques was not enough. We wanted to learn more, so we began to invite speakers to our meetings. Through the years, we have compiled a stellar list. Among the earliest speakers were, Junius Bird, Mary Walker Phillips, Gayle Wimmer, Pauline Johnstone from the V&A in London, Shigeo Kubata from Japan, and Monique Levi-Strauss from France. Then a little later, we also added Jack Lenore Larsen, Mildred Constantine, Sheila Hicks, and other eminent forces in the fiber arts and textiles world. A more complete list of recent speakers can be found on our website (http://www.tsgny.org/MONTHLY.html)
3. Can you tell us about one of the most memorable projects that the TSGNY has undertaken?
Many of our members are inveterate gallery goers, not just to look at textiles, but all arts. In 1993 or 1994 there was a large exhibition at the World Financial Center of arts done in Czechoslovakia during the Russian occupation, starting in the late 60's. One segment organized by a group of artists in Prague consisted of 5 1/2 inch square boxes sent to any artist who wanted to participate in a series of underground viewings. Work had to fit totally inside the box, which was then sent back to the committee. These were shown mostly in small groups in secretive shows - Russians wanted no art.
One member of the Textile Study Group told another, and eventually many members saw the show. It quickly became a catalyst for our first 9x9x3 show in 1995. Entrants could submit up to three boxes. One happy result of the show was that many people ordered more than three boxes, and the work they produced kept popping up in shows everywhere! The show traveled for two years and was so successful and such an interesting challenge, that members asked for a repeat. Thus, 9x9x3: New Visions was born, and it is proving to be just as exciting as it was the first time, for both the artists and the viewers.
To learn more, browse the members gallery and find out about exhibitions and activities, visit their website, at www.tsgny.org
Read much more about the Textile Study Group of New York, its members, the artwork, and how this group has contributed to the our legacy of contemporary fiber arts and textiles, in the Summer issue of Fiber Art Now (July, 2012).