The Queue: Patricia Malarcher

The Queue: Patricia Malarcher

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

Published on Monday, October 19, 2020.
Cover graphic for The Queue featuring Patricia Malarcher

Introducing the Legacy series of The Queue

Alongside the winners our 2020 Awards being featured in the October/November 2020 issue of American Craft, the Legacy series of The Queue offers a platform for this group of incredible artists and advocates to share personally about their lives and work. Plus, take in their shortlists of exciting projects, people to follow, content to consume, and more.

With pen or needle, Patricia Malarcher is affirming the importance of craft

Patricia Malarcher is a textile artist and writer who has been named Honorary Fellow for her scholarship, research, and advocacy in the craft field. She has been a contributor of articles on craft to the New York Times and the editor of Surface Design Journal, considered the primary thought-leading publication on the contemporary textile medium. Read more about her career in the "Honoring Accomplishments" feature from the Legacy issue of American Craft.

Spread of issues of Surface Design Journal edited by Patricia Malarcher

↑ A sampling of Surface Design Journal issues edited by Patricia Malarcher.

Tell us a little about your background in 50 words or less.
Before completing an MFA in painting, I’d held editorial jobs at a magazine and newspaper. An exhibition of contemporary fabric hangings lured me to fiber, and I’m still there. Since the 70s, I’ve applied my writing and editorial skills to craft, eventually as editor of Surface Design Journal (1993 – 2011). I’m now working on independent projects.

As an ACC Honorary Fellow, what responsibilities come with this type of recognition?
I have to thank the people who offered me challenging opportunities over the years, especially when I got to a crossroad and didn’t know which way to turn. At present, I try to keep track of what’s happening in the field, and, wherever possible, give encouragement to emerging artists and writers, regardless of age. In work going forward, I will do my best to maintain the standards for which I was given this award.

What type of legacy do you hope to leave with your work and career?
When I began to write about craft, my intention was to document artwork, events, and ideas that, because of craft-related materials and associations, escaped attention from the larger art world. I hoped to reach an audience of potential viewers, and also to leave a body of evidence for future researchers. Later, with a particular focus, I wanted to affirm the value of textile art as a means of expression throughout the world ever since humans began to make things, and also as a structural language with broad applications including in architecture and medicine.

An exhibition of contemporary fabric hangings lured me to fiber, and I’m still there.

What’s an exhibition or art project you think the world should know about, and why?
I’ve been watching lots of stimulating online presentations during the pandemic, and was especially excited about an interview with Neri Oxman, an architect and designer whose "Material Ecology" exhibition was recently at MoMA, by the curator Paola Antonelli. Oxman spoke about drawing from disciplines as diverse as biology and engineering in order to “grow objects.” Her radically innovative approaches to making gave me a lot of hope for the future.

What has been the biggest barrier you've had to break through to get to the place you’re at with your career?
Looking back, I think my biggest barrier was my limited perspective on what is possible. For example, after years of being short-listed but never quite the right fit for teaching jobs that were geographically accessible, I finally realized that teaching was not the only way to participate in the conversation beyond my studio.

I have to thank the people who offered me challenging opportunities over the years, especially when I got to a crossroad and didn’t know which way to turn.

What’s one go-to tool in your toolkit that the world should know about?
I can’t live without a yellow legal pad and an assortment of Bic pens for blocking out articles and writing down questions while editing printed texts. In my studio, a needle is the essential tool, whether for hand-sewing or machine-stitching on any kind of material that can be perforated.

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