Gallery assistant Tyshay Harris helps research the history and techniques used for textiles like this one from Cameroon.

Somewhat hidden among the hundreds of artifacts in Laura Soskin’s Gallery 1925 on Central Street are textiles of all kinds and sizes.

Some of the 30 colorful molas in Laura Soskin’s textile collection will be exhibited at Gallery 1925 for their Oct. 1 show. Credit: Judy Chiss photo

Most of the pieces are neatly folded on shelves, waiting for visitors to ask to have them pulled out for viewing. This Saturday’s event at the gallery, Weaving through Time: Art of the Thread, will be a celebration of the gallery’s dazzling array of textiles from around the world. 

Soskin’s collection of textiles includes rugs, tapestries, saddle-bags, quilts, tent-coverings, blankets, mats and clothing decorations. Some are old and rare pieces, and others are examples of textile work that is continuing tribal designs and handiwork from more than a century ago.

“I’ve been collecting for more than 30 years, and I love that unfolding the textiles is like unfolding history,” Soskin said.  “Many of the pieces, like one huge indigo blue wool tapestry bordered in red from Cameroon, were made for ceremonial purposes.” 

Crafting the huge textile involved a time-consuming resist process in which embroidered designs were removed after the tapestry was dyed, allowing the elaborate white designs to emerge on the indigo-dyed fabric. 

The exhibit will also include examples of colorful rectangular reverse-applique textiles called molas, mostly the work of Kuna Indian women living on the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama. Traditionally, the completed molas are sewn onto clothing like skirts or dresses, but today they are also widely sold for pillowcases or framed art. The designs often depict animals such as fish or birds.

Bridal dowry pieces are also in the textile collection. These include functional pieces such as blankets and quilts. The exhibit will include an antique Dhadki that is an excellent example of the piecing-together process that is often embellished with intricate embroidery by the Kurch women of Western India. Climate change, which has impacted this agricultural part of India, is causing more women to rely on Dhadki-making for income.  

Weather permitting, the textile exhibit at 1925 Central (corner of Central and Prairie streets in north Evanston) will be primarily an outdoor experience taking place from noon to 5 p.m. The exhibit will take advantage of the sidewalk space and exterior walls and windows of the corner storefront for display of the pieces.

In case of rain or high winds, the exhibit will move inside the gallery.

“But regardless of weather, the show will go on,” said Soskin, who is excited to share many of her favorite textile pieces. 

Objects in the gallery are both for observing and purchase. 

The gallery’s hours are Wednesday to Friday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Judy Chiss has been a feature writer at the RoundTable since 2007 and especially enjoys writing about interesting happenings in the schools, as well as how our local not-for-profits impact the community....