WATERVILLE — “Underlying Threads: Interpreting the Textile History of a Mill Town” will consist of a variety of works that honor, question and interpret Maine’s historic ties to textile manufacturing. Common Street Arts, in partnership with the Surface Design Association of Maine, has organized a thought-provoking exhibition highlighting the continuing significance of textile mills to Maine communities.

Working in diverse, textile-based mediums, artists weave, embroider, crochet, knot and stitch to create intricate quilts, rag rugs, tapestries, as well as fabric-based paintings, collages and sculptures. Subjects include the symbiotic relationships between the river, mill and people; the significance of the mills’ demise; the ways in which women’s social history may be traced through needlework; the environmental impact of industrialization; and many others.

As a whole, the works in this exhibition seek to illuminate the legacy of these textile mills in the twenty-first century. Featured artists include: Jennifer Beaven, Brunswick; Stephanie Crossman, Vinalhaven; Kathleen Goddu, Brunswick; Katherine Harman Harding, Freeport; Sara Hotchkiss, Waldoboro; Pat LaPierre, Bass Harbor; Phyllis Harper Loney, Round Pond; Priscilla Nicholson, Brunswick; Susan Perrine, Woolwich; and Jill Snyder Wallace, Minot, all members of the Surface Design Association of Maine.

An opening reception is set for 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 17, at Common Street Arts. The gallery will host a discussion panel and Q&A on the textile history of Maine mill towns with Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., Maine state historian, Libby Bischof, Ph.D., associate professor of history and department chair, USM, exhibiting artists, and community members from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 14. Community members with personal ties to Maine mills are invited to share their stories.

A number of art-making workshops will be led by various artists featured in the exhibition, including twining with Hathaway shirt fabric with Martha Dempski (not an exhibiting artist) set for 6-8 p.m. April 16, 23 and 30; Weaving: Ancient Skill, Contemporary Notions with Susanne Perrine will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26; Shibori–Sashiko Sampler with Kathleen Goddu is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, May 3; and Sculptural Crochet with Priscilla Nicholson will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, May 17. The exhibition will run through May 30.

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