Through the Work of More than 60 Artists, ‘The Golden Thread’ Traces the Rise of Textiles in Contemporary Art

Featured image: Rachel B. Bayes, “Pixel Dreamin’” (2024), monofilament thread, polycarbonate Roscolux filters, shimmer poly-organza, and marine vinyl binding, 92 x 108 x 36 inches

In the historic South Street Seaport area of Manhattan, a former 18th-century mercantile warehouse sets the scene for a monumental exhibition of contemporary textile art. The Golden Thread: A Fiber Art Show, presented by BravinLee, gathers more than 100 artworks by 61 artists into the cavernous space, including ten site-specific installations that riff on the building’s history, character, and original machinery.

Metaphorically, the golden thread is a feature or concept that is present in all parts of something, holding everything together and imbuing it with value. This notion provides the framework for an ambitious presentation of dozens of pieces by artists who utilize or incorporate fiber into their work, formed around questions like, “How are textiles enmeshed with power?” or, “How can the medium’s previously outcast status at once be challenged and reclaimed?”

Tracing its roots back tens of thousands of years, fiber has played an intrinsic role in human society, used in everything from garments to homewares to industrial equipment. Historically defined as a craft, trade, or hobby, fiber encompasses a vast range of practices, from knitting and embroidery to weaving, quilting, and carpet design. During the past century, textiles and their processes have increasingly found their way into fine art, tying contemporary practices to timeless traditions.

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