The exhibition “To Spin A Yarn, Distaffs: Folk Art and Material Culture” is showing through Jan. 10 in Reavley Gallery in The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.
The exhibition features simple tools representative of one aspect of the weaving tradition of virtually all cultures, according to its curator, Michael T. Ricker.
Ricker will discuss the exhibition in a gallery talk at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, followed by a reception. SFA School of Art alumni and textile historian Sarida Steed-Bradley will give a spinning demonstration at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22.
Ricker describes the subjects in the display of more than 60 distaffs from the 19th and 20th centuries from various European countries as “inherently simple tools used for spinning fiber,” he writes on the dust cover of his book by the same title, “To Spin A Yarn, Distaffs: Folk Art and Material Culture,” published by SFA Press.
“SFA Press published the beautiful full-color book last year, and so we brought the exhibition to the Cole Art Center,” said John Handley, director of SFA art galleries.
“They (distaffs) represent one aspect of the weaving tradition of virtually all cultures,” Ricker writes. “In certain cultures, distaffs evolved over centuries from plain sticks to surprisingly ornate sculptures. They eventually became important cultural objects, with almost ritualistic significance.
“Despite their importance and wide proliferation, surprisingly, distaffs are rarely found today,” he writes. “Many did not survive years of hard use. Others were relegated to attics and barns, deteriorating both physically and within communal memory. Today, distaffs remain cultural touchstones and marvelous examples of the rural craftsman’s talent and creativity.”
The exhibition is sponsored in part by the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts and Nacogdoches Junior Forum. Admission is free.
Nineteenth century textile production tools from the Stone Fort Museum's collection will also be available for viewing during the spinning demonstration.
The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For information about this exhibition and others at The Cole Art Center, call (936) 468-1131.