NEH award goes to "Disappearing Threads: Textile and Fiber Art in South America since 1964"

full frame shot of rich, natural colors of dyed yarn, displayed side by side in stripes of loose thread.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded Western Art History Assistant Professor Jacqueline Witkowski with a stipend this summer for her research and writing project. The project is called "Disappearing Threads: Textile and Fiber Art in South America since 1964". 

"Disappearing Threads: Textile and Fiber Art in South America since 1964" project description

From 1964 to 1976, a series of military golpes occurred in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, and established long-standing dictatorial governments. Artists in these countries grappled with the volatile period through artmaking and protest, activities that often became intertwined. Because of the dictatorial governments’ direct oppression of politically left-leaning citizens, many artists fled their home countries or ended their art practices altogether.

The upheavals had lasting effects on artmaking into the twenty-first century for those who would remain. One such effect were new materials that went beyond painting, drawing, or sculpture, as avenues to generate and to attend to new voices and ideas that countered the governmentally sanctioned spaces of private museums or national galleries.

The inclusion of fiber and textile materials in artworks took on pressing political and aesthetic resonance in the 1960s and 1970s, one that continues to be used today. This project addresses textiles as a medium, a process, and an engagement with the social and political context of the Southern Cone from 1964 to the present. It focuses on the material means of fiber or textile and their expanded metaphorical capability as techniques to capture the elusiveness of language and expression during rampant censorship, periods that have affected generations of artists.

About the NEH award

The NEH stipend program aims to stimulate new research in the humanities and its publication. The program works to accomplish this goal by:

  • Providing small awards to individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both
  • Supporting projects at any stage of development, but especially early-stage research and late-stage writing in which small awards are most effective
  • Funding a wide range of individuals, including independent scholars, community college faculty, and non-teaching staff at universities