MutualArt | Weaving Stories: The Narrative Power of Contemporary Fiber Art

Cassie Sim, MutualArt, March 24, 2020

History gets even more personal and intimate in the works of Santi Wangchuan, a Thai artist who seeks to preserve the dying craft of his family’s traditional form of weaving that used to be their main source of income. In contrast to the rapid urbanization of his home, his mixed-media, handmade works reflect the cultural and religious customs of Ubon Ratchathani, his hometown in the province of Isan in northeastern Thailand. In January, his monumental sculpture My Local Way of Life was featured in TWENTY TWENTY, a creative initiative by the Singapore Arts Club in the form of a pop-up art destination at 2 Cavan Road, a former ship repairs factory and heritage site in Singapore. In the middle of the 20,000 square feet warehouse, Way of Life spills down from the high ceiling in massive, multicolored columns of rope, fiber and thread. The lyrical hues and patterns interwoven with the spillage are abstractions of the botanical species, traditional dance and calligraphy native to Isan. One cannot help but feel that the sculpture’s placement in the center of this huge industrial space is in itself an opposition to the prevailing mechanization the artist’s family trade had suffered from back home. In the act of perseverance, it is also a symbol of hope.