Helping Handcrafts

You learn one thing right away about the people behind the TACtile Textile Arts Center: They do not take the fiber arts lightly. Indeed, they diligently give such community-oriented, functional arts the same attention that a good seamstress gives her stitches. So when they decided to present an exhibit promoting ethnic textiles, the toughest task was deciding how to limit a truly global genre. After a bit of brainstorming, they came up with a humanitarian theme for World Threads: Preserving Fiber Traditions, which opened at TACtile earlier this month.

“It became clear we would do a service by showing textiles and fiber-related crafts from developing nations in order to support those craftspeople while also creating a connection with American textile and fiber artists,” says spokeswoman (and local artist) Shelly DeChantal. To that end, they engaged the help of a handful of locally based or connected fair-trade nonprofits as well as a few regional craft and textile collectors to build a show from the grass roots up. The result includes Vietnamese needlework, gorgeous paper bead jewelry and cloth market bags from Uganda, embroidered Miao jackets from China, knitted items, beadwork, basketry and more, with a focus on dying traditional crafts endangered by the encroachment of industry.

This spectacular show remains on view through May 2. And today from 1 to 4 p.m., the six participating nonprofits will be on hand for an open house to discuss each group’s pet project, offer demos and craft talks, and sell handmade international wares from Africa, the Americas and Asia; TACtile will donate a major portion of the proceeds to the nonprofits. TACtile is at Tamarac Square, 7777 East Hampden Avenue; the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, visit www.tactilearts.org or call 720-524-8886.
Sun., April 19, 1-4 p.m., 2009

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