Given textile arts’ close, complex relationships to both the notions of home and gender, it feels appropriate that we utilize these crafts and their associated aesthetics to process the current moment. Historically, especially in America and Europe, clothing and textile creation were a vital part of the perceived domestic sphere, which made them considered women’s work. Crocheting, embroidering, sewing, and the like were not given true respect as art, but instead seen as crafts. While oft-male and otherwise privileged artists were free to use visual mediums to create objects of pure expression, female crafters were relegated to create what was primarily functional. Though most clothing production has since migrated to industrial factories, visual hallmarks of the domestic craft style remain relevant today.
Textile arts played a huge role in protest art used during the second wave feminism movement of the 1970s, and participants at the 2017 Women’s March who wore hand-knit “pink pussy” hats paid homage to these practices. It is worth noting that historically, domestic crafts were often produced by not just women, but women of color or those who depended on it for their livelihood, who were hired to complete domestic labor tasks in wealthy households. The legacy of these exploitative practices still stands today in the fashion industry as luxury players like Kering, LVMH, and more often outsource embroidery work to uncredited and underpaid artists in India.