Hand Towel Project: Elizabeth Billings and Andrea Wasserman

May 9 - June 21, 2015

Although both Elizabeth Billings and Andrea Wasserman trained in art school as weavers, their work, as individuals and as collaborators, encompasses all manner of materials and forms. Their collaborative work includes designing and constructing outdoor public spaces as well as permanent installations in public buildings. They almost always reference nature, often images of or segments from trees.

The armature of the Hand Towel Project comprises dozens of branches, creating a canopy that arches over viewers as they explore this installation. Hung from the branches are hundreds of hand-loomed hand towels embroidered or printed with images of trees or with poems. Projected images and poem fragments enhance the feeling of being under a verdant canopy with its shifting patterns of light and shadow.

Setting exquisitely crafted household objects in an environment that suggests the experience of being in a forest links inside with outside, nature with craft, natural resource with finished product, humble hand towel with majestic tree. These pairings and their many associations are at once evocative and provocative, calling into question our relationships to nature, home, objects, and sustainability.

— Mara Williams, Chief Curator

We have witnessed that art makes a profound difference in people’s lives, and in our own lives. And we are witnessing daily the precarious condition to which humans have brought our planet. Putting these two ideas together, we came up with the Hand Towel Project. In the throw-away, consumer-driven society we live in, we want to build a small intentional-yet-random community focused on the sustainable practices of caring about what we use and how we use it.

The project consists of handwoven and hand-printed hand towels overlaid with poetry. The words and imagery extend across one towel to the next, so that in its entirety the Hand Towel Project is one image, light to dark, dense to sparse, a sensation of forest to one of open air. When the exhibit ends, the hand towels are given away, creating a community brought together through hand towels, shared words, and sustainable practices.

— Elizabeth Billings and Andrea Wasserman

Click here to view selected images from this exhibit.

The artists extend special thanks to Grace Amber, Cone Editions, Jody Gladding and Milkweed Editions, Lucyanna Labadie, Philip Mulligan, Michael Sacca, Ann Suokko, Marion Wasserman, and Vanessa Waxman.