February 4, 2018
Annual Business Meeting and Pot Luck Dinner

Talk by Hillary Steel

Ikat/Jaspe: A Comparative Look at Process and Design from Three Continents

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The Mexican jaspe rebozo is unique both in originality of design and the process of achieving it. While it may be lesser known among world ikat, it is highly significant among the family of resist textiles and has not taken its rightful place among other beautiful examples from around the globe. Hillary Steel’s presentation, Ikat/Jaspe: A Comparative Look at Process and Design from Three Continents will focus on the similarities and differences among ikat design from three distinct global regions; Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, Uzbekistan in Central Asia and Mexico. Her talk will reflect research and personal experience with teachers and weavers from each of the above places and will compare elements of design, cultural aesthetics, and systems of tying resists and dyeing unprotected threads. Steel will provide an in-depth view of the construction of a Tenancingo style, Mexican jaspe rebozo as taught to her by Don Evaristo Borboa Casas as part of an overview of global ikat design that will also clarify the labor intensive process of dividing warp threads, then marking, binding and dyeing them, and the use of dyes and color systems.

Hillary Steel is a teacher and artist who specializes in weaving and resist dyeing. She incorporates ikat and shibori (jaspe and amarras) into her hand woven wall pieces. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After graduation, she studied textiles via post-baccalaureate course work at Buffalo State College and the University of Pittsburgh as well as through travel to Cote d’Ivoire, Peru, Chile and Mexico. Hillary received a Masters in Teaching degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She has worked in public and private schools in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the Washington DC metropolitan area as an artist in residence, creating site-specific collaborative textiles with students. Currently she is on the faculty of the Potomac School in Virginia.

Since 2006, along with colleague Virginia Davis, Hillary has been studying with and documenting the work of Mexican master rebozo weaver Don Evaristo Borboa Casas. They have produced a short film about his work. Hillary’s work has been included in national and international exhibitions - at the North American Cultural Center in San Jose, Costa Rica, the American Consulate in Taiwan, and currently at our Embassy in Mexico City. Her textiles have been the subject of solo shows at the McLean Project for the Arts and artspace Gallery in Virginia, at the Glenview Mansion Art Gallery in Maryland and at other venues in PA and Ohio. Steel’s work is included in the book Art on the Edge, Seventeen Contemporary American Artists published by the U.S. Department of State. Hillary’s textile art is held in private and public collections, including the GW Textile Museum and Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., at the American Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico, and at the American Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. She has been a resident of Montgomery County, Maryland since 1994, and maintains a studio in Takoma Park, Washington D.C.

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