Printed Toile Politics

Re: SBMA “Slave to Fashion: Yinka Shonibare and Printed Textile History” talk by Starr Siegele, Adjunct Curator of Prints, Allentown Art Museum, and Independent Scholar. Printed toile was mentioned with stories of the plight of the slaves. Abolitionists used them as curtains, bedding, wall fabric to comment or make a statement. How subtle this was – a beautiful house decoration with a political statement. It made me wonder why this type of commentary went out of style?  Are we a society of no comment, because we “tastefully” use solid colors, stripes, or bucolic scenes? I’d like to see this type of in-home commentary come back in style.  In looking for a example of the printed toiles mentioned during the talk, I found a contemporary designer named Sheila Bridge who created a new toile Harlem Toile de Jouy. I see it as one next step in the dialogue of this tradition through the control of imagery. Sheila Bridge’s Harlem Toile de Jouy A funny personal side note to my comments is that solids, stripes, etc could be commentary in my house since I have an abstract agenda. : )

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