In 1974, women in a feminist consciousness-raising group in Eugene, Oregon, formed a mock organization called the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Emblazoning its logo onto t-shirts, the group wryly envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc.
Elaborating on this example as a prehistory to the more recent phenomenon of "craftivism" the politics and social practices associated with hand-making Fray explores textiles and their role at the forefront of debates about process, materiality, gender, and race in times of economic upheaval.
Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be.
The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of hand-making at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.