Material Meaning: A Living Legacy of Anni Albers explores the ongoing legacy of Anni Albers through the artistry of ten contemporary American artists and designers working with weaving as their art form – Samantha Bittman, Lois Bryant, Christy Matson, Jennifer Moore, Brittany Wittman McLaughlin, Rachel Snack, Susie Taylor, Cameron Taylor-Brown, Suzanne Tick, and Marcia Weiss.
Each work is annotated with a few words about its relationship to something Albers practiced or taught. Personal statements by each artist further reflect on Albers as inspiration. Published in the centennial year of the founding of the Bauhaus, this book, based on the exhibit shown at the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles, pays homage to the spirit and methods of Anni Albers and the Bauhaus weaving workshop.
Sigrid Wortmann Weltge wrote the seminal book on the weaving workshop that links the contemporary artists in this exhibition to the women of the Bauhaus. Her book, originally published by Chronicle Books in 1993 with the title Women’s Work: Textile Art from the Bauhaus, unearthed the missing chapter in the story of the most important design institution in the history of modern design. Weltge documented rare or little seen photographs of the textiles that completed the interiors of the Bauhaus aesthetic and gave recognition to the women of the Bauhaus who were not given a choice in their selected discipline at the school. In 2000, a second edition of the book was published by Thames and Hudson and was titled, Bauhaus Textiles: Women Artists and the Weaving Workshop. This title liberated the work from being categorized as ‘women’s work’ and highlighted the innovative use of materials and the embrace of technology the designers employed.
As Professor Emerita of Art and Design History at Philadelphia University, Weltge educated many modern day textile designers, some of whom have art in this exhibition, while other artists and designers are familiar with and have been influenced by her written work. Weltge’s critical research and intellectual dedication to documenting the important work of the Bauhaus weavers continues the thread of knowledge and sophisticated approach to textiles that began in 1919 when the Bauhaus opened its doors.
If it were not for Weltge and her original archival research and publication, the history and lineage of the weaving workshop and its direct influence on contemporary textiles could have been lost.
The Bauhaus bridged the gap between fine art and craft. As you will see on these pages, the inventive design philosophy of Anni Albers and the Bauhaus weavers lives a long afterlife and continues an impactful living legacy in art and design today.