Rebecca A. T. Stevens : Curator of exhibition "Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora"

March 31, 2016 | By FRENCH CULTURE DC

From April 16 to September 4, the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, present exhibition Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora and French artist William Adjété Wilson's work The Black Ocean (L'Ocean Noir)

Rebecca A. T. Stevens is Consulting Curator, Contemporary Textiles at The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum.

INTERVIEW

What did the idea of Stories of Migration:  Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora grow from?
Rebecca A. T. Stevens: The idea for this exhibition grew out of a conversation between me and Leni Levenson Wiener of the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), an international organization that represents 3400 artists around the world, including seven from France.  More than two years ago we began to explore the possibility of developing a thought provoking exhibition on which SAQA and The Textile Museum in Washington, DC could collaborate.  When Leni proposed the idea we both agreed that the concept of diaspora seemed very timely and covered a variety of international concerns which would be of interest to the Museum’s audience.

Who is Rebecca A. T. Stevens?
Rebecca A. T. Stevens: I have been the Consulting Curator for Contemporary Textiles at The Textile Museum for over three decades.  I have organized contemporary exhibitions, written books, articles and catalogues, juried national and international textile exhibitions, and have lectured on contemporary textile art on five continents.

How does a curator specialize in contemporary fiber art?
Rebecca A. T. Stevens: My background is in contemporary fine art and the decorative arts, both as a student and as a maker.  While living in Europe 1968-1970 I saw a contemporary textile exhibition, the Lausanne Biennale, which had traveled from Switzerland to Madrid.  I was swept away by this seminal exhibition which demonstrated to me that contemporary fine art and decorative art come together in a powerful way in contemporary textile art. This exhibition inspired me to practice as a textile artist for several years before deciding to concentrate on research, writing and curating full time.  I was fortunate to be the first curator to specialize in contemporary textile art at The Textile Museum.

This project has social, political and artistic dimensions. What are your expectations in the context of the U.S.?
Rebecca A. T. Stevens: The artists in this exhibition skillfully comment with fabric, needle and thread on diaspora, the overarching narrative of our time.  Their works give visual voice to the historical truths, physical deprivations, racism, and prejudice in today’s unsettled world and pose questions for the viewer to consider.  These questions are of increasing importance here in the U.S. in terms of our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere and our concerns for our friends in Europe and the Middle East.   My hope and expectation is that this exhibition will provoke thoughtful discussion of these subjects.  With this in mind we have included Parisian artist William Adjété Wilson and other international artists who add their perspectives to the U.S. artists in the exhibition.  

Will the exhibition circulate?
Rebecca A. T. Stevens: The exhibition includes site specific works and no circulation to other venues is planned.  Fortunately, there is a fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition which may be purchased through The Textile Museum shop.

You may find more information about the exhibition here.

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