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Image courtesy Ann Hamilton Studio.  Commonplace book by Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, 20th Century, courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Washington D.C.
Image courtesy Ann Hamilton Studio. 
Commonplace book by Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, 20th Century, courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Washington D.C.

Ann Hamilton:

cloth · a commonplace | Public Program

May 17, 2016–from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Opening Reception:

Participatory Workshop

​Please join The Fabric Workshop and Museum and internationally recognized artist Ann Hamilton on May 17 from 5:00-7:00 PM in The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Art and Literature Department at the Parkway Central Library (1901 Vine Street).
This event is free, all ages are invited to attend, and materials will be provided. 

Cloth swaddles at birth, covers in sleep, a single thread spins a myth of origin and a tale of adventure, interweaves people and webs of communication. Coat and tent are the first portable architecture for the body, a flag carries the symbol of nationality, a folded blanket is a story of trade. Cloth is the hand that is always touching. Its felt experience is evoked and described by the other hand that we always inhabit, that of language.  — Ann Hamilton

Everyday speech is peppered with textile metaphors. We draw threads of connection and spin tales; a stitch is a unit of time, blue collar and white collar denote class, and a white cloth signals a truce. It is difficult, however, to describe the felt experience of being inside or touching a particular cloth. Its drape, weight, or movement is referred to as a cloth’s “hand.” In the hand of the writer, these tactile qualities are understood through the subtle alchemy of word and metaphor.

Please join us in exploring the intersection of texts and textiles by looking through Library staff-selected literature, or books you bring, to find language referencing the cultural and material life of cloth. Participants’ selections will be posted online as part of a communally authored “commonplace” collection. This compilation of texts will help shape the upcoming September 2016 exhibition habitus at The Fabric Workshop and Museum and will be available for reading and taking.

For more information and examples of submissions: www.cloth-a-commonplace.tumblr.com

For Ann Hamilton's introduction to the project and guidelines on how to submit your own literary fragments on Tumblr, click here

Recent Press:


Major support for Ann Hamilton: habitus has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from The Coby Foundation, Ltd., the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Shipley-Miller Foundation.


American, born 1956, lives in Columbus, Ohio

Ann Hamilton studied textile arts at the University of Kansas, where she completed her BFA in 1979. She went on to earn an MFA from Yale University in sculpture in 1985. Her varied background in the visual arts informs her artistic practice, which takes the form of installations, videos, objects, and performance. Hamilton’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including the Irish Museum of Modern Art (2002), Musèe d’Art Contemporain in Lyon, France (1997), and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1994). In 1999, Hamilton was selected to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. Her honors include the National Medal of Arts (2014), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (1993), The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1990), and a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (1989).