NYGH members Fannie Lee, Katy Clements and I were fortunate to attend the WARP Annual Meeting at Kent State University in July, “Threads of Connection: Exploring the Local to Global Textile Community.” After a three year hiatus due to the pandemic, we were able to meet in person. (During the pandemic Annual Meetings were convened on Zoom; this meeting was also available on Zoom for members unable to attend.) WARP is NOT a meeting of weaver’s - there are no workshops, no sale of yarn or weaving equipment and books - but rather a gathering of like-minded people concerned with improving the quality of life of textile artisans worldwide. Founded in 1992 by Deborah Chandler (author of “Learning to Weave”) and friends, we have met yearly since that time.
My first meeting was in 2005 at the Penn Center in St Helen’s Island, S.C. I’ve made every effort to not miss a meeting since then. At Kent, as at other meetings, the organizers make every effort to invite local fiber activists (one presenter told us that she was more used to talking to sheep than to a human audience). Among the presenters was the current head of the Textile Program at Kent, and the recently retired head of the department Janice Lessman-Moss. In addition to presentations, there was a Marketplace, Member Exhibit at a local gallery, Fashion Show (featuring our own Katy Clements playing the guitar), live auction and presentations from the five scholarship students.
We were interested in hearing about the Rust Belt Fibershed which is developing regional natural fiber systems in the Cleveland Area. And about a program for migrants and the unemployed that provides sewing lessons and a sewing machine for every participant. There is still enough manufacturing in the area to provide graduates with job opportunities.
We heard from Jessica Pinsky, founder of Praxis Fiber Workshop about how they are working towards their goal of building healthy, resilient and inclusive communities through fiber arts. AND those of us interested paid a visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art where we spent time with a curator examine a small selection of items of textile interest.
In addition to having a lot of fun and meeting new people, there was a serious undercurrent to the Meeting as we were at Kent State College, the site of the tragic Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970 when four unarmed students opposing the expanding Vietnam War into Cambodia were shot by the National Guard. Visiting this site on campus was sobering; the University has memorialized the dead students with a sobering display of the events of that day. This was an opportunity for younger members at the Meeting to learn more about this tragedy.
You can view the presentations on the WARP You-tube channel. WARP also has frequent Zoom discussions available to members and non-members. AND the next meeting will be in Golden, Colorado in summer 2024. It will be a lot of fun!
Founded in 1992, Weave A Real Peace is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with members from across the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Their newsletter is published quarterly telling of textile cooperatives (weaving, spinning, dyeing, basketry, sewing, felting, and more) and other member projects from around the world. Once a year WARP meets for an annual meeting in a place rich in regional textile resources or history. We also have monthly programs hosted on zoom, which feature panels of members presenting about their work in textile communities around the world.