on Weaving

If a line starts with a dot, then weaving begins with a strand of thread. Thread, how fragile and breakable it may sound. Thread is composed of many minute fibers whose number nobody tries to establish. It can appear frail as air but when woven togther it has the capacity to endure trials and tribulations. The strength of thread is celebrated in Mary Oliver’s poem “The Return”:

It lay there like a sign,
Coiled on the bull’s great hoof
And back into the world
Half Blind with weariness
I touched the thread and wept.

And I turned then
With the while spool
Through the cold rocks,
Through the long webs,
And the mist fell,
And the webs clung,
And the rocks tumbled,
And the earth shook.

And the thread held.


Weaving is one of the many forms of textile art. The art form has always been highly regarded in Japan and Korea as well as some South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. All these nations have deep-rooted affinity in weaving and textile tradition. In the West it had been debated for a long time whether is textile art art or is it merely craft. No longer. Textile art is already recognized as a main stream practice in the West, enjoying its fair share of attention in the contemporary art scene.

To me, these debates trivialize the history and tradition of art. When camera was invented, people were afraid that photography would destroy or substitute painting due to its excellent capability to record light. Yet time has proven that such fears were unfounded. As Oscar Wilde said “All great art is empathy.” What it boils down to is, a work is a piece of art if it has a soul that resonates with the viewers, no matter its material.

*Oliver, Mary. “The Return” in New and Selected Poems. pp. 223-256. Boston:Beacon Press, 1992.

Meiling, 2008-09-09

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