Graduation Year

2023

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Art

Second Department

Italian Studies

Reader 1

Aly Ogasian

Reader 2

Marino Forlino

Rights Information

© 2023 Sophia R Frye

Abstract

Fiber art has a complex, long-standing history; the relationship between the craft and the craftsman is intimate and goes beyond the commodification of the product. Business records from Florentine guilds give insight into the wool industry, but are unable to capture the social history of wool crafts in Renaissance-Baroque era Italy. In response, this project turns to Italian Baroque fairy tales: Giambattista Basile’s The Pentamerone (1634-36) and Giovanni Francesco Straparola’s Le Piacevoli Notti (1555). These fairy tales depict scenes of women engaging in fiber crafts, which reveal the poverty of the women textile laborers, the women’s relationship to textile work, and society’s negative view of the labor. In an effort to bring the work of the textile laborers and their interaction with society to light, I depict characters from three of Basile’s fairy tales using needle felting: an orphaned girl spinning fiber to sell at a market; an old woman who dyes wool in a workshop ostracized by society because of her unsightly appearance; and a peasant worker who combs flax fiber in a castle at the direction of the king. Additionally, through a self portrait, I question what it means to be a contemporary fiber artist in an experimental fine art context. I use mohair from angora goats raised by my family, strengthening the connection to traditional textile work.

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