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Today I attended the Textile Museum’s press preview for “Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles,” which opens to the public tomorrow. It’s a small, 18-piece display intended to complement the museum’s big spring exhibition “Green: the Color and the Cause,” set to open in April.”Second Lives” showcases items like quilts, jackets, and wall hangings fashioned out of textiles previously used for other purposes, primarily as garments. The pieces come from all over the world, from places like India, China, and Japan, as well as nearer locales like the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.
Going to a press opening, particularly at the Textile Museum, is an interesting experience. You’re sitting around with other media types and you feel kind of obligated to introduce yourself and make conversation, but it’s just that—an obligation. And if you’ve never been to the Textile Museum, it’s a rather staid building nestled among embassies on a quiet street in Dupont. I always feel like I’m making a visit to a very wealthy great aunt’s house and that she’ll see through my attempts at etiquette and expose me as a crude being.
9:17 a.m. The woman from Where magazine introduces herself and asks me who I’m with. I tell her. “So this has been a big week for you guys, huh?” she asks.
9:21 a.m. A woman from Fredricksburg asks if there’s a lot where she can park her car. The answer is no. Welcome to the big city.
9:24 a.m. Fredericksburg asks Where if they’re looking for freelancers. I hide.
9:26 a.m. Fredericksburg introduces herself and asks who I’m with. She nods blankly when I tell her. She doesn’t ask about freelance opportunities. Thank god.
9:29 a.m. I look at the table filled with fruit and pastries. I remember what my colleague, Jonathan L. Fischer, told me Roger Ebert said about taking food at these kinds of event. Something along the lines of, “If you make a lot of money, don’t take it. If you’re don’t, go for it.” I definitely fall in the latter category. I grab half a croissant.
9:35 a.m.There are only five people here. The preview was supposed to start at 9:30. We’re going to wait before we head up to the exhibit. I mentally tap my foot.
9:41 a.m. Lee Talbot, the curator of “Second Lives,” introduces the exhibit. We head upstairs.
9:47 a.m. Talbot shows us some textiles that belonged to Buddhist priests, made from cut-up garments. Apparently ancient teachings instruct priests to wear clothes made from cut-up textiles as a display of eschewing wealth; cutting up the original clothing negates its value. Seems like kind of a non-organic, artificial way of devaluing something.
9:56 a.m. Talbot directs our attention to a wall hanging fashioned from a Qing Dynasty-era robe. It took three years to make. Contemporary haute couture seems less impressive.
10:05 a.m. Another person arrives at the preview. I think I’d be embarrassed to show up this late.
10:11 a.m. I’m looking at a beautiful white quilt made from recycled saris and embroidered with elephants, my favorite animal. A disruptive thought crosses my mind: What if I attack it with my pen?
10:13 a.m. Suddenly there’s yet another person among us. How did she get here?
10:20 a.m. Why do old men so often smell like moth balls?
10:22 a.m. I yawn for perhaps the fourth time. I hope I’m not being too conspicuous.
10:24 a.m. I look around. As suddenly late arrival number two came, she left. Man she’s stealthy.
10:27 a.m. Final question time. Most of the questions have been about “Green” rather than “Second Lives.”
10:33 a.m. I slip out of the exhibit as the group starts to disperse.