“Converging Parallels” Crosses Borders and Gender Roles

By Justin Lafreniere

"Stitch by Stitch" by Maria Karametou

“Stitch by Stitch” by Maria Karametou

Woven, sewn, and stitched together by prominent international artists and George Mason University alumni, the textiles in the exhibition “Converging Parallels” convey an exploratory vision of women and their changing societal roles.

Running from September 25 to October 18 in the Mason Hall Alumni Gallery, the show was organized by Maria Karametou, an associate professor in the School of Art and the director of its international programs; and Turkish artist Biret Tayman, former head of the Textiles Department at Marmara University, Istanbul. The purpose of the exhibit is to promote understanding and partnerships across national borders.

Featuring both American and Turkish artists, the internationally collaborative project explores the dynamics that impact women in the megalopolis environments they inhabit, how their identities are shaped or defined by it and how the advent of a more global, homogenized society has altered their lives. The works specifically relate to textiles, building a medium traditionally associated with women into a commentary on beauty, storytelling, and labor. These artists find commonality despite their different nationalities, locales, and environments as they seek to illuminate and investigate the position of women in society, constantly altered by a shifting world.

“Stitch by Stitch,” by Karametou, uses bobby pins, hair, and a digital image on a teabag. “The repetitiveness of the work relates to embroideries and handiwork, an activity mostly associated with women,” she says.

Karametou spent time in Turkey on a Fulbright Grant. Her research project, “A Visual Investigation of Textile and Embroidery Design in the Search for Creative Expression” explored designs of embroidery and textiles from the beginning of the Ottoman Empire to contemporary Turkish art and became the origin for the “Converging Parallels” exhibition.

“I was inspired to do this international project after my six months in Turkey, where I found that the lives of women have become so very similar in big, globalized cities regardless of country, in contrast to what they used to be like when I was growing up in Greece.”

The opening reception is on Wednesday, October 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The exhibition first appeared in Istanbul’s Ayse Taki Gallery in May 2012.

Other artists include:

  • Stephanie Booth
  • Rebecca Chase
  • Elsabe Dixon
  • Nahid Navab
  • Serma Gür
  • Başak Őzdemir
  • Irem Sabanuç
  • Biret Tavman
  • Vildan Tok