12/4/15 – Lynn Bennett-Carpenter & The Weaving Sisters of Namtenga
Artist: Marcelyn “Lynn” Bennett-Carpenter
Location: Hunter House
LB-C – Burger, fries, pop
SRS – Cheeseburger, fries
True fact: anytime I am going out to Cranbrook, there is a stop at the Hunter House involved in my day. I don’t know if I love the food or the throwback environment, and I don’t care. I am delighted to have an excuse, every time I go there. The excuse this time was a studio visit that took on extraordinary proportions, with Lynn Bennett-Carpenter, who has taught weaving at Kingswood, the high school on Crankbrook’s campus, for the last 10 years. Lunch was really just the kickoff to a wonderful afternoon, which included a visit to Lynn’s home studio, a tour of the Kingswood facility–a marvel of Craftsman construction and Art Deco detailing that left me looking around for broom closets that I could hide in and stay forever–and a wander-through the weaving studio.
Yeah, the high-school weaving studio, yawn NBD. OMG SUPER BIG DEAL. Fine, Cranbrook. You win. You are amazing. I am amazed. FINE.
I don’t know where to begin. Lynn’s own work is wonderful–some of which I’ve explored in detail here–and she’s working on a continuation of some themes developed during her sabbatical this year, which include the work included in this group show, but it was great to get to see a more holistic view of Lynn’s world and her creative perspective. It was also lovely to wander around the weaving studio, learn about and see Cranbrook’s proprietary looms that were developed there, and hear about a project that Lynn has been working on through Cranbrook since 2007.
Oh yeah, I buried the lede deep today. The Namtenga Project is the coolest thing I’ve heard about in a while. Basically, Lynn and a dedicated group of students did some fundraising, and were able to supply the start-up capital and training for a weaving studio in Burkina Faso, West Africa (the third-poorest country in the world). The Weaving Sisters of Namtenga have taken up the trade wholeheartedly, producing meters upon meters of hand-dyed and hand-woven fabric, which Lynn and the students use to create products like backpacks and pencil cases. They sell the products in the hall, and 100% of the money they receive goes directly back to Burkina Faso.
I know what you are thinking, because I was thinking it, too. CAN I BUY SOME OF THIS FREAKING AMAZING FABRIC???!?!? Yeah, yeah you can. Lynn is like, “OMG I don’t even know what to do with all this,” and I am like PLEASE SELL SOME OF IT TO ME AND THEN LET ME TELL DETROIT ABOUT IT. Because seriously, just look at it:
I mean, really. It’s holiday time, and everyone is looking for something to get for the Afro-Futurist in their life. Problem solved. I personally think we need to get a trunk sale or something together, because listen, I love a good cause but I don’t even need an unselfish reason to buy this fabric – it is BEAUTIFUL, handmade and direct from Africa, and an outlandishly good deal. Please feel encouraged to flood Lynn’s inbox with inquiries (sorry, Lynn!! you’re welcome!!) – email@example.com.
Let’s get the word out about this awesome opportunity to benefit others while also sneakily benefitting our fashion-conscious fabric-obsessed selves!