Recommended Reads: Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave

Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave
Organized by Chris Molinski
with contributions by
Chris Molinski
Glenn Adamson
Jenni Sorkin
Julia Bryan-Wilson
Philis Alvic
& Laura Y. Liu
Edited by Susan Snodgrass
University of Chicago Press 2011
ISBN: 9780945323228
Softcover, 163 pages. $30
Buy it via SDA/Amazon here.

Each year, I learn about more textile-oriented art exhibitions than I could ever hope to attend.

One show that I truly regret missing was Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave at Knoxville Museum of Art in Knoxville, Tennessee (January 22–April 25, 2010).

Luckily the exhibition catalog, co-published by the Knoxville Museum of Art and WhiteWalls, thoroughly chronicles what is arguably the most complex, generous and intensely researched project that Anne Wilson has undertaken to date. The conceptual and historical underpinnings of each section are explored in essays by Glenn Adamson, Jenni Sorkin, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Laura Y. Liu and Philis Alvic.

From performance art and sculptural objects made of glass to interactive art and a public reading room, Wilson offered viewers a variety of access points to reconsider the importance of textiles in their lives. Curator Chris Molinski deftly defines the parameters in his exhibition notes: “Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave consists of 3 distinct projects: Wind-up Walking the Warp (2008), Rewinds (2010) and Local Industry (2010). These projects represent the work of 2,100 community volunteers, 79 weavers and dozens of studio assistants working with glass, thread, video, sound, and live performance.”

Wind/Rewind/Weave is, at heart, a response to the legacy of textile production in the Knoxville region – now all but gone. This absence of handwork and the importance of tactile history prompted Local Industry, Wilson’s sincere egalitarian approach to creating a meaningful interactive public art experience.

Wilson set up a functional weaving workshop inside the gallery where visitors of all ages were invited to sit and wind bobbins of thread (chosen from an enticing table of spools donated by textile companies, some now defunct). These bobbins were then used by professional textile workers and fiber artists invited to weave a mesmerizing bolt of striped fabric that chronicles the months-long collaboration. The names of every participant are exhibited alongside the finished textile, which is now part of KMA’s collection.

The visual design of the catalog by Maia Wright does an admirable job of communicating the ambitious scope of this show without overwhelming the reader. Each section is documented with a rich assortment of color and black and white photographs and drawings as well as ample white space for the eye to rest. Action shots of weavers and visitors at work are juxtaposed with a lush selection of textile samples, installation images and colorful groupings of bobbins.

The publication is accompanied by a comprehensive website at and KMA’s online exhibition archive offers downloadable PDF files of everything from Wilson’s extensive research notes and bibliography to pictorial logs of historical woven samples and weavers working in different countries and time periods.

Surface Design Journal Winter 2012 issue featured the article Anne Wilson: Labors Lost, Re-imaged by Shannon Stratton (pages 12-15), which discusses each facet of the Wind/Rewind/Weave exhibition presented at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2010.

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