Portable Story / Woven Story: A weaver, a novelist, and a scholar talk about how textiles inspire and renew human connection 

August 2023

Since ancient days, textile terms have offered a way to talk about storytelling: The storyteller weaves a story together. The reader follows the thread of a narrative. The story unspools and unfolds. And—like a work of handcrafted textile whose story carried across the world by the traveler—written and spoken story are inherently portable.  This shared portability of textile and text bring unique possibilities for inspiring human connection across time and place, whether “stowed in trunks, sent across oceans, enriching maritime navigations, worn across shoulders, or sewn inside one’s clothes,” as Mary Jo Bona writes, or carried by the traveler, these hand-worked textiles are a constant reminder of the social ties that promote cross-cultural exchange.

This program began with Adria Bernardi reading a brief  passage from Benefit Street an experimental novel about cultural displacement that draws on the processes of weaving a kilim.  Cameron Taylor-Brown shared images and discussed recent works of textile art, talking about her process and the relationship between her own writing process and weaving.  Mary Jo Bona shared insights from Women Writing Cloth, discussing how textiles renew relationships and inspire kinship across time and distance. 

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