Engagement with Fiber Animals- Connecting to New York City

Animal fibers are “living” extensions of the animals they come from, especially as the animals live long lives on farms. Community members are increasingly being exposed to fiber animals such as sheep, alpacas, and angora goats as farmers bring them to local festivals and provide updates on social media. Farmer’s physical and virtual visibility induces a climate for community and fiber animal interactions.

The week long exhibit “Alternative Fashion Strategies: Design Incubator with Green Eileen” at the Parsons Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in New York City further prompts community and fiber animal engagement. The exhibit was curated by Assistant Professor Laura Sansone, a textile entrepreneur and expert in community-building with fiber arts.

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Upon entering the gallery space, community members are greeted with the “voices” of people, angora goats, alpacas, and surrounding natural elements like wind. The “voices” coincide with the still and moving images on the white walls by presenting an “open farm day” environment, specifically at the Laughing Goat Fiber Farm. “Voices” of community members tell each other that the alpacas were shorn and that the angora goats have personalities. The “open” farm provides a space for exchange of knowledge. From people-to-people, animals-to-people, and animals-to-animals. The physical “openness” of the farm extended beyond the farm boundaries into the New York City gallery space.

The presentation of fiber animals in the gallery entrance suggests their inherent value to local fiber, clothing and textile value chains. The combination of voices, fiber animals, people, and nature indicates that they are embodied elements of local clothing and textile value chains. The animals give “life” to the fibers and must be acknowledge for their true worth as fellow living beings.

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