MoCA Westport Opens Textile Show Inspired by Suffragist Protest

Jac Lahav "Sojourner" (MoCA Westport)


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WESTPORT — A new show of textile art inspired by suffragist banners and flags opens June 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Westport. 

“Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” was first shown at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 at the Contemporary Art Modern Project gallery in collaboration with the Fiber Artists Miami Association. The MoCA show in Westport expanded to include artists from the northeastern U.S.

The 2020 show coincided with passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the presidential election year.

“Now with this show, Roe vs. Wade is gone,” said Melanie Prapopoulos, who curated the Westport show with Maria Gabriela Di Giammarco, and Mario Andres Rodriguez.

The show explores how female artists, and a few males, use textiles — a “feminine” art form often relegated to the “craft” category – to create pieces that subvert societal expectation. 

“The marriage of the female artist to the textile medium, both outwardly and socially expected to be weak, in the hands of these artists, is affirming that strength lies in durability, pliability, and resolve,” said Ruth Mannes, MoCA Westport’s executive director, in a release.

A number of works focus on the intersection of feminist and civil rights issues, including Laura Villarreal’s “Breaking Borders: Mapping of a Suffragette,” a map of the United States assembled and stitched together using a variety of fabrics and photocollage, overtopped with black yarn spelling “I am worthy.” 

Laura Villarreal, Breaking Borders: Mapping of a Suffragette” (MoCA Westport)

“The exhibition and its message – the right to vote, and the action and responsibility of everyone voting – is just as important now as in the past. The artists are the present day warriors still carrying the torch first lit over one hundred years ago,” Prapopoulos said. 

Chiara No, “When It’s a Crime” (MoCA Westport)

Not every piece uses textiles as a medium. Chiara No’s piece, “When it’s a Crime,” designed as an American flag, is made from coat hangers, a symbol of protest in abortion rights. Also, adjacent to the show, are works by sculptor Shelly McCoy, including “In Latex We Trust,” an American flag made from condoms.

Shelly McCoy “In Latex We Trust” (MoCA Westport)

Alongside the show is also Aurora Molina’s “Woven Destinies” series that uses repurposed t-shirt yarn in a weaving process based on Indigenous traditions throughout the Americas.

The exhibit concludes with an interactive loom that allows visitors to collaborate on a fiber art installation that began with the 2020 show in Miami.  

“Women Pulling at the Threads of Social Discourse” 

MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike, Westport, Conn. 06880

June 30 – Sept. 4

Opening reception: June 30, 6 – 8 p.m.

Artists included in the exhibition:

Laetitia Adam-Rabel, Alissa Alfonso, Carlos Bautista Biernnay, Nancy Billings, Liene Bosquê, Pip Brant, Carola Bravo, Mabelin Castellanos, Melissa Dadourian, Camille Eskell, Susan Feliciano, Molly Gambardella, Amy Gelb, Joseph Ginsberg, Jac Lahav, Maria Lino, Laura Marsh, Sooo-z Mastropietro, Caitlin McCormack, Shelly McCoy, Jeanne Jaffe & Molly McGreevy, Norma Minkowitz, Aurora Molina, Valeria Montag, Chiara No, Evelyn Politzer, Rosana Machado Rodriguez, Alina Rodriguez Rojo, Damian Rojo, Margaret Roleke, Debora Rosental, Rosario Salazar, Yolanda Sanchez, Natalia Schonowski, Leslie Sheryll, Silvana Soriano, Maru Ulivi, Rita Valley, Lisu Vega, Laura Villareal, Joan Wheeler, Silvia Yapur, and Wendy Wahl.