Tag Archives: art

Texture + Textiles with Tulusa’s Sue Henry

My article for District Fray Magazine

Sue Henry, an Alexandria, Virginia-based artist, started Tulusa six years ago. As a lifelong artist and sculptor, she took the plunge into the textile world by hosting a pop-up shop out of her home studio with hand embroidered block prints that were sewn into pouches and pillows. Her block-printed designs sold out in two days, and she decided to move things online, too. Step by step, Henry has grown Tulusa into a retail and wholesale brand of table linens, home decor, and personal accessories. Locally, you can find Tulusa’s textiles in Old Town at Boxwood and Red Barn Mercantile. In D.C., you’ll find table linens at Shop Made in DC and at other pop-ups around the metro area.

Tulusa’s studio in Del Ray is what Henry calls a “stem to stern studio.” They carve the blocks, mix their own inks and dyes, and stamp the designs on yards and yards of linen. They then cut, hem, and sew the cloth. While printing designs onto fabric most likely originated in China about 4,500 years ago, it was on the Indian subcontinent where hand-blocked fabric really blossomed into an art form with a variety of intricate pattern motifs. Indians had extensive knowledge of natural plant dyes, particularly with mordants (metallic salts that both create color and allow it to adhere to fabric).

In Tulusa’s studio, Henry and two other employees carve and stamp yards of linen, using non-toxic ink and organic heirloom-quality linen. Because of the techniques they use, each one of the pieces has its own character and uniqueness.

For Valentine’s Day, Tulusa has some heart-full designs, including heart sweatshirts with rays emanating from the heart. The ink in the rays has a metallic sheen that makes them shine in the sunlight.

“I want people to buy something that brings them a little bit of joy,” Henry says.

Tulusa crafts her products with materials that can be passed down from one generation to the next, and she wants her pieces to add a little something special to someone’s life. Henry particularly values this aspect of her art.

“Even with our two rowdy boys, we’ve always set the table with linen or cotton napkins,” Henry says. “Linen in particular will last a lifetime or two if it’s taken care of. It’s a little something that we can do to help save natural resources. Plus, when a table is set, it makes every meal feel a little more special.”

This year, Tulusa is also adding table linens and accessories made using a technique called shibori, a Japanese tie-dyeing technique, which produces different patterns on the fabric.

“We have gotten rave reviews on our shibori — it’s bright and colorful, and many of the styles have several layers of color which gives them depth and brilliance.”

Find Tulusa’s work and sign up for her newsletter to find out where she is popping up next by visiting tulusa.com and follow them on Instagram @tulusa.goods.

The Production Of Value–What Happens When Banksy Roils The Art World’s Waters Yet Again

My Blog for Ministers Of Design

Last Sunday, a booth appeared in Central Park selling “signed, 100% original” Banksy pieces at $60 each. Banksy is currently “on residency in New York”; his work is popping up in his trademark spectacularly subversive fashion–a creepy stuffed animal “slaughterhouse delivery truck” in the Meat Packing District, for one.

Art collectors loudly bemoaned the fact that they missed the chance to acquire the much-coveted pieces that routinely fetch six figures at a ridiculously discounted price. And Banksy, as he is wont to do, got to make fun of the idea of what constitutes art and the pretentiousness of the “art market,” where value is conferred by exclusivity. Would we recognize art if it is not labeled as such? And what happens when graffiti, an art form that in its very execution flies in the face of concepts such as ownership and private space, gets a price tag and starts participating in the very machine it seeks to obviate?
Banksy might as well be one of the world’s most reluctant “successful gallery artists.” The Sunday Central Park stunt was a spectacle, a performance art piece like the many he has done before, and it flew in the face of the notion that exclusivity confers value. Sure, Banksy is now, willingly or inadvertently, in the business of selling rebellion. But that doesn’t mean that taking the “art world’s” money has caused him to sell out. Sunday’s stunt was Banksy’s thumbing his nose at the fact that we need art critics to tell us what art is and how much it is worth. Banksy has often made fun of the elitism, pretentiousness, and outright absurdity of the curating art and placing it in a museum. The art market, like any other capitalist cultural reproduction tool, works to equate ownership of art with culture and the mark of the “cultured,” as James Clifford explored in his seminal article On Collecting Art and Culture.
 According to the video from last Sunday, more than four hours passed before the first sale was made, to a customer who bargained to get two paintings for $60. Later, a woman from New Zealand bought two. Finally, a man from Chicago stopped and said, “I just need something for the walls” of his new place. He bought four. 8 paintings sold in total.
In other words, if it is not labeled as such, would we know a Banksy? Does knowing that it is a Banksy somehow raise the value of the art just because it is now branded and hence ownable and usable as an identifiable and identity-conferring status symbol? Does art’s subjectivity not mesh particularly well with its object-ivity? You tell us.