The Collective Fabric Project

Axelle Boyer, Ph.D student History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz

The Collective Fabric project is meant to create a safe environment on the campus of the University of California Santa Cruz for students and faculty to come together and participate in the creation of a collective textile.

The project involves the construction of a self-standing 7’ x 4’ wooden hand loom, that will be conspicuously placed in a central outdoor area at Porter College, home of UCSC’s History of Art and Visual Culture department. The loom was made available to students during working days throughout the Fall 2019 quarter. The weaving material (yarn and fabric) will be provided by the Fábrica, a local community textile arts and salvage workshop based in downtown Santa Cruz.

A sign posted next to the loom encouraged students to contribute fibers and strips of fabric from old and discarded garments, textiles, house linens, etc. It also provided a brief history of weaving, and of native women’s weaving in California more specifically, and will explain the basic technique of hand weaving. Participants were able to create two weavings simultaneously – one on each face of the loom. The loom was built on wheels so that it could be put away at the end of the day. Once completed, the woven textiles were hung in the conference room at Porter College (D245). It will be a visual reminder of the Arts Division’s commitment to community-related art projects. The project was documented by principal instigator Axelle Boyer, a PhD student in the department of History of Art and Visual Culture whose dissertation examines the role of textile-making practices in the reconstruction of postcolonial societies. Students who participated in the creation of the collective fabric were invited to answer a few questions regarding the haptics and the collaborative aspect of their weaving experience.