Angelo Testa, Yardage: “Textura Prima Solida,” United States of America, 1939 –1960, screen-printed cotton, 26 x 24 in.
Christine Weiss graduated in June from the School of Human Ecology, with a degree in Textiles. Her senior thesis work is included in the current exhibit, Studying History, Designing the Future, at the Promega Art Showcase.
This textile is a fragment of hand screen-printed yardage designed by the artist Angelo Testa. Testa was the first graduate of the Institute of Design in Chicago in 1945; he also studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts and the University of Chicago. After his studies, Testa went on to dominate the textile furnishing industry through the mid-20th century, with clients in both the architectural and interior design worlds. He is credited with designing the first abstract, non-objective prints to be mass-produced in the United States, and was crucial to the design movement that happened after WWII. Testa’s prints could be found on everything from chairs to drapes. One practice that set him apart from other fabric producers was that he didn’t put out an annual or bi-annual line. Rather, he would continue to fill orders and print yardage as long as there was interest.
The shapes that Testa used are simple in nature, yet I find the way he placed them on the fabric very intriguing. His designs are all different, using different motifs, but his style is so distinctive that his work fits together as if it had been made as a single collection. I am inspired by Testa’s work, and even used him as an influence for a past screen-printing project. In my own work,I like to use geometric and abstract shapes similar to Testa. I am also more interested in designing for interiors than for apparel fabric. All I can hope is that one day my designs will remain as current-feeling and fresh as Angelo Testa’s have for the last 70 years. More information here.
In 2019, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology launched a yearlong anniversary celebration of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Over the past half century, the collection has grown from an original 4,000-piece gift to more than 13,000 objects that have inspired and informed thousands of students, researchers, historians, and textile aficionados. The 50-year celebration began on January 27, 2019, with the opening of new Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, a space dedicated to year-round displays of the collections. Activities continue into 2019 with a calendar of public exhibitions, symposia, lectures, and public workshops.