A group exhibition by Namibian artists

Maria Caley


Textile artist Maria Caley finds creating textiles therapeutic, especially ‘in the way the process takes over’, she explains. She continues transforming until she is satisfied with the outcome, which is ‘usually a compromise’, she says. Over the years her textile making processes developed into an intimate relationship between herself, her hands and the material. She is content with her outcomes once the textiles evoke in her feelings of serenity and treasury. At that point it becomes impossible for her to cut up her textiles to make a garment.

Maria’s usual way of work over the years has been to use a textile, transform it with colour, print, embellishment and perhaps adding texture. Recently she found herself deeply reflecting on her creations, what she makes with her hands, and the value she connects to her work. A frustration she encountered recently is that she feels her audiences do not see or value her textiles when they are used in her fashion. As a result, she questioned perceptions of beauty and a slow process of destroying her perceived beauty, deconstructing or taking apart her garments and textiles, begun. Maria says:

This process was challenging as I found myself trying to control the destruction. I often felt detached from the textile in my hands. Usually the textures and what I feel excite me as I start working, but in the recent processes of destruction it was as if I did not want to feel. Perhaps the fear of having nothing left from my textiles and garments scared me, because I didn’t want to end up empty-handed.

In her work ‘My margins: to be black, a woman and young’, Maria explores her personal experiences of marginalities through her textiles. As a young black Namibian woman the traces of Ondelela used in her textile art reinforces these identities, while deconstructing her textiles she physically attempts to undo, and make sense of, these marginalities, that also inform her identity processes. Her textiles reveal, in a very physical way, her difficult experiences with peripheries.

An artist talk with Maria Caley is available here.

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