The William Morris Society in the US is seeking participation for its upcoming CAA 2024 session, “What Would Morris Do? Textile Use and Sustainability for the 21st Century.”
This session is scheduled to take place in person at the conference venue in Chicago between February 14th and 17th, 2024 (exact date and time to be announced).
Proposals are accepted between July 21- August 31, 2023. Submission information can be found on the CAA website.
In 2022 ultrafast fashion company Boohoo released a collection featuring William Morris’s designs. Four years earlier, in 2018, H&M produced its own line of Morris-inspired clothing. The use of Morris’s name and image in the 21st-century textile industry raises questions about environmentalism, sustainability, and labor in a world of mass production, greenwashing, and misinformation. At a time when many historic designs have entered the public domain, and their use by textile manufacturers is becoming widespread, art history and contemporary textile production are deeply interconnected. Taking the use of Morris textiles in the 21st century as a starting point, this session invites contributions exploring the relationship between the history and practice of art and the urgent questions surrounding textile sustainability in the present day.
While much has been written about how textile sustainability is impossible under our current economic system, Morris envisioned a utopian socialist society. What textile futures can we imagine today? How could textiles be produced, used, and appreciated in a more equitable society? What does a slower textile movement look like and what steps could we take to create it? What is the proper role of technology in such a society? Are there people or organizations (historical or current) that have successfully worked toward this vision?
We welcome submissions that engage with these and other questions about textile sustainability, commercialism, and the history and practice of art, craft, and design. Contributions from scholars and practitioners addressing textiles from any period or geographic region are welcome.