Throughout human history women have usually been the everyday sewers who clothe themselves, their families, and their abodes - in the process producing works of great beauty, functionality, embedding their cultural traditions into fiber and cloth - often with superb craftsmanship. The discovery of precious textiles from times past, and the cataloging, maintaining, displaying these gems of human endeavor, enrich and educate us today.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art currently has on display, through August, The Costume Institute’s spring 2016 exhibition entitled, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. Hand-made (manus) vs. machine made (machina) has always provided a sense of artistic tension as to which is the best method for elevating the construction process in clothing the human form from pure function to aesthetically awe-inspiring artful design.
With more than 170 examples of fashion from the early 1900s to the present, from the time of the beginning proliferation of sewing machines and resultant mass production of clothing and textiles to today’s awe-inspiring 3-D printing and computer modeling experiments, the exhibit examines the hand and machine as creative tools. It is easy to see, by examining these textile jewels from the past juxtaposed to today's imagination-infused futuristic 3-D printed sculptural clothing, how traditional fiber and threads, and a sewer’s stitches, can truly be counted as art for the ages.
The global smorgasbord of countries that have found the history and beauty of textiles and their resultant clothing and artifacts to be worthy of preserving and proudly displaying as fit to reside in museum collections is testament to the value of the sewer’s art. With every stitch, whether by hand or machine, the sewer infuses a bit of culture and tradition into the cloth. Together the sewer’s stitch and the weaver’s cloth results in more than the sum of its parts; culture is passed on, traditions preserved, the sewer’s skills remains intact. Textiles and their manipulation by the sewer, or by extension, the human controlled computer, tell the story of the ages and reveal the very real and beautiful fabric of our lives.
Manus x Machina, Fashion in an Age of Technology
Sew happy, sew inspired.