George Washington Carver: Textile Artist
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Born a slave, George Washington Carver (1864-1943) is one of the most historically prominent African American scientists. Carver was a pioneer as an agriculturalist and botanist by introducing methods of soil conservation for farmers, inventing hundreds of by-products from peanuts, pecans, sweet potatoes, and soybeans, and practicing “zero waste” sustainability. Scholars have recognized Carver’s talent as a painter and his ability to develop paints and dyes from various natural sources; however, there is very little scholarship documenting his work as a textile artist. Holdings at the G.W. Carver National Monument and Tuskegee Institute National Historic indicate that Carver was proficient in textile techniques such as embroidery, weaving, crocheting, knitting and basketry. According to a document written by the National Park Service Carver created, “embroideries on burlap, ornaments made of chicken feathers, seed and colored peanut necklaces, woven textiles” (p. 24) and that “He was an honorary member of the Royal Society of Arts in London, England”.
This symposium is published as Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los Angeles, California, September 10–14, 2014. Posted with permission.