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For Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, life began in the green fields of California’s Central Valley as a child laborer. Artistic expression was deeply tied to traditional Huichol weaving, a heritage she incorporates into her large mixed media textiles. For her, it is the thread that links the past to the present. Borders and barriers are the vocabulary she uses to describe and celebrate the lives of migrant field workers and indigenous people who are marginalized and downtrodden.

L: Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Courtesy of the artist 
R: Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, Rebozo de la Frontera, 2001

All of Terese Agnew‘s quilts are stories drawn from real life. Fueled by environmental and labor rights concerns, Agnew paints and sews painstakingly detailed quilts in her sunny Wisconsin studio. Agnew’s important Portrait of a Textile Worker, pieced together from more than 30,000 clothing labels mailed to her from all corners of the world, underscores the abusive conditions endured by disenfranchised workers who make our clothing in countries we rarely think about.

Terese Agnew in her studio, Mark Markley photograph

Throughout history, man has sought ways to craft a domestic environment that is warm, comforting, and redolent of meaning and memories. Through interviews with nationally acclaimed artists working at the forefront of their media, artists devoting their lives and pushing boundaries of technique in the pursuit of their art, Threads looks at ways in which the needle arts have evolved from the “functional” to the “meaningful”.

Terese Agnew, Portrait of a Textile Worker, 2005, Courtesy of the Artist 


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Watch a 2 minute preview of Threads.


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Craft In America Educational Materials look further at Threads as a concept in craft. Visit the EDUCATION section HERE > to see what's available and download a Lesson Guide.

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We filmed artist Faith Ringgold for the THREADS episode. Learn more about the series HERE >

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View addtional clips and images from Threads at pbs.org/arts

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