Chloe bensahel: weaving material stories
In celebration of the experimental weavings of Dorothy Liebes, currently on view in A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes, Cooper Hewitt will host contemporary textile designer and weaver Chloe Bensahel, who is also renowned for her innovative use of materials and technology.
Artist and weaver Bensahel will be in conversation with Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Bensahel and Auther will discuss her multidimensional and pathbreaking artistic practice; her integration of advanced technologies into her weaving; and how she has positioned textile as a form of narrative across her career.
About the Program
- Program Length: 90 minutes
- Interactivity Level: Low to medium
- Intended Audience: People curious about design, textile design, interior design, weaving, craft and technology, and the narrative power of textiles.
- Museum admission is not included in ticket price.
Rooted in textiles, performance, and installation, Bensahel is a Franco-American artist who addresses the relationship between narrative and material, text and textile. Inspired by her family history of migration, Bensahel considers material as a container of information, carrying language, stories, and belief systems. Recent works have begun implementing conductive thread technologies to create textiles that react to touch and gesture, so that materials can “speak” their own stories with tools like sound and light. She was awarded a 2019 Google Jacquard residency at Google Arts and Culture, and exhibited at the Manufacture des Gobelins in Paris, the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne, and the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 2022 she was a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow at Cooper Hewitt and the National Museum of American History to research parallels between metallic lace and magnetic core memory, a 1960s technology hand-woven by women. She will also be a visiting artist in residency at MIT’s Media Lab in 2024.
Elissa Auther is the Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). She provides the strategic direction and creative oversight for exhibitions, acquisitions of works of art for the Museum’s collection, publications, and exhibition-related public programming. Auther has published widely on a diverse set of topics, including the history of modernism and its relationship to craft and the decorative, the material culture of the American counterculture, and feminist art. Her book, String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (University of Minnesota Press), focuses on the broad utilization of fiber in art of the 1960s and 1970s and the changing hierarchical relationship between art and craft expressed by the medium’s new visibility. Her most recent exhibition for MAD, Queer Maximalism x Machine Dazzle, was a solo show of the genre-defying artist and costume designer, Matthew Flower (aka Machine Dazzle), the theatrical genius behind today’s top cabaret, drag, and performance stars.
- Location: This program will take place in person in the Process Lab at Cooper Hewitt (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY). The Process Lab is on the first floor of the museum and fully wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible restroom on the ground floor, accessible via elevator. Theater-style seating will be available. Read more about accessibility at Cooper Hewitt.
- What to Expect: This program will include an illustrated presentation with slides by the speaker followed by a moderated conversation and an audience Q&A. The program will be livestreamed and available on Cooper Hewitt’s YouTube channel.
- Accommodations: The program includes live CART captioning.
- For general questions, please email us at CHEducation@si.edu. If we can provide additional accessibility services or accommodations to support your participation in this program, email us or let us know when registering. Please make your accommodation request as far in advance as possible—preferably at least one week before the program date when possible.
Health & Safety Measures
Please visit Cooper Hewitt’s Plan Your Visit page for up-to-date information on health and safety guidelines.
A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes is made possible by The Coby Foundation; The Decorative Arts Trust; the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, a program of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum; and the Terra Foundation for American Art.
The project received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Generous support is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation; the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Mergentime Family Archive; and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation.
Support is also provided by Elizabeth Whelan, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and Patsy Orlofsky.