Last semester, Junior, Aneesa Shami received a scholarship from the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. to attend their annual symposium. Following is a brief description that she wrote about her experience there.
The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. holds an annual symposium centered around a specific exhibition they organize, and this year’s focus was Southeast Asian textiles (from October 12-13). The Textile museum offers a program for undergraduate and graduate students to apply for a scholarship that waives the symposium fee, and I was one among seven chosen. Saturday, all the selected speakers presented for the symposium, while on Sunday, the Textile Museum curator led a group tour through the Southeast Asian exhibit. The symposium had two anthropologists offering presentations on Javanese culture and how it relates to their textiles in the context of globalization, the CEO of Jim Thompson speaking about his Thai Silk Company and an art historian presenting on weavers from Laos and the textiles they produced.
During the symposium’s ten minute intermission, I talked with the students sitting next to me in the audience and learned about their graduate art programs. One girl was in FIT’s program, giving advice for my own graduate school journey. She told me that if I was interested in research, I should look to a school’s museum or gallery–if I enjoyed what they displayed, then I would probably work well within the program. Two other girls went to George Washington University, both in a design program; their primary professor sat in front of us, and I told them about how KCAI’s fiber program works. All three of them were envious of the extensive facilities and knowledge I had access to, telling me that they were dying to get just one textile class at their school.
The next day, the curator led us around the exhibit and two of the contemporary artists, Nia Fliam and Agus Ismoyo, showed up to talk about their work. It was incredible to hear them explain each piece, the concept behind their technique. The curator paired their pieces with traditional batik cloth from Java, the primary technique used in their work. Both of the artists talked fluidly about their processes, and I felt lucky to see them actively discuss their ideas.
Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity to see people that live in different areas in the U.S. and learn about what they work on; I enjoyed meeting many of the symposium goers as well as listening to the presentations. It helped center my identity further in what I want to do in future years; it encourages me to continue with my work by knowing there are others that love doing theirs.
For more information about the Textile Museum, visit their website at www.textilemuseum.org