Weaving, Tradition, Art and Community



Weaving, Tradition, Art and Community

Presented by Carol Cassidy
Saturday, March 20, 2021, 10 am PDT

Online Presentation via Zoom

Admission: Free to TAC Members, $5 Students and members of FAMSF, $10 General Admission.

Purchase tickets in Eventbrite.

Zoom registration link will be emailed to all TAC members.

In her presentation, Carol Cassidy will reflect on the past 5 decades of her work with weaving communities, exploring traditional techniques and moving beyond tradition.

In 1990, Carol co-founded Lao Textiles, a weaving studio in Vientiane, Laos. She spent the early years of the business collecting, analyzing and replicating traditional Lao textiles, allowing her weavers to hone their technical skills and develop a deep appreciation their traditional designs and weaving techniques.

After laying a firm foundation, the Lao Textiles by Carol Cassidy aesthetic began to emerge – one that expands on tradition to blur the boundaries of fine art and functional textiles, and of contemporary and traditional design.

The artisans and the extended Lao Textiles community are included in each aspect of the business. Lao Textiles has achieved more than financial stability for the weavers. The strength and pride of the staff extends beyond the studio, into their homes and communities.

As Lao weaving and textiles became celebrated further afield, the cultural significance and respect for weaving within Laos has grown, creating a regeneration of tradition that has empowered communities across the country. Carol has taken her personal model of weaving success beyond Laos to support artisans in northern Cambodia, Rakhine state in Myanmar and Northeast India.

TBDCAROL CASSIDY, co-founder and manager of Lao Textiles, has been working with yarn, color, community weaving and fiber art for nearly 5 decades. She studied hand weaving and textile design in Norway in 1975, later in Finland and earned a BFA from the University of Michigan in 1980.

From 1982 she lived and worked as a textile/handicraft expert on community empowerment programs for eight years in Southern Africa.This included working to train women in Lesotho to produce handspun mohair yarn and sell it through the early days of the Fair Trade network. After, on a rural development project for the FAO/United Nations, she applied her expertise to setting up sustainable cottage industries for women in Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe. In 1989, Carol moved from Mozambique to Southeast Asia to work as a weaving expert on a ILO/UN weaving project in Vientiane, Laos. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband established, Lao Textiles, a private, weaving business to preserve and continue the tradition of silk weaving in Laos.

More than 31 years on, Lao Textiles has employed more than 50 artisans and thus empowered two generations of Lao women through weaving. The studio produces a broad range of hand‑woven silk textiles ranging from intricate brocade, tapestry and Ikat textiles and is recognized for producing high quality, complex fabrics in original designs for interiors and accessories.

Carol continues to manage Lao Textiles and advise the UN, IFAD and other development agencies on natural resource-based income generating activities for rural women. Traveling widely, Carol teaches and lectures, including UCLA, NYU, and Siam Society, Asia Society, Textile Museum, Columbia University, Weaving- Cognition, Technology, Culture ’17, on weaving, creativity, small business management and shares her personal journey of weaving success with weavers and artisans all over the world.

Image Credits:
1. Ms Boua at her loom, weaving naga head cloth. Photo courtesy of Carol Cassidy
2. Carol Cassidy at loom. Photo courtesy of Carol Cassidy.

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