TIWA SELECT is a new online boutique with a highly curated array of found objects, folk art and artisanal craft from around the globe. Here founder ALEX TIEGHI-WALKER shares the stories – and the faces – behind some of his favourite items from the site
Text by Alex Tieghi-Walker
North Carolina-based Jim McDowell, known as the Black Potter, believes he is the only potter who creates face jugs based on both his family traditions and his sacred ancestral heritage of using ceramics as grave markers.
“I found myself intrigued by a conversation between my father and some older family members. They were talking about something called face jugs and how they related to our family history.” His jugs tell of entire worlds; from rewriting the stories of African leaders who have been erased from history books, and slaves who used determination and skill to escape captivity, to jugs representing the open divisiveness, racism and bigotry that we are seeing in America and beyond this year.
In a fruitful moment of happenstance, Megumi and I were paired up in conversation at 2am outside a bar during Milan’s Salone del Mobile a few years ago. I loved hearing about her textile projects (which she primarily created to accompany movement pieces), so she was the first person I reached out to about creating textiles for the shop. Megumi infuses American folk quilting traditions with Japanese boro– intricate stitching traditionally used to repair and embellish large textile pieces – reflecting both sides of her parentage.
“How I came into the world is possible from the convergence and union of vastly different experiences,” Megumi says. “I hold this dear to me as a guiding principle in my life and making.” For Tiwa Select’s participation in Object & Thing this year, she is creating a large bedspread that will be the centrepiece of the principal bedroom in the historic midcentury Noyes House in Connecticut. She dyes her own fabric scraps and stitches them together with vintage materials from Japan and the USA. Her pieces are a soulful explosion of colour. Incredible, really.
An old friend and an excellent ceramicist. Phoebe has a lot of fun with her work, and her project Mud Belly Ceramics is no exception. “I was immediately struck by the intensely transformative quality of ceramics and the haptic communication it encourages,” she explains. Her pieces look like magical seedpods and have a fabulous naïvety to them. While the intention is that most objects sold on Tiwa Select serve a definite purpose, I like that Phoebe’s pieces are a bit more ambiguous.
I met Jeff at the LA Art Book Fair when I had just moved to California, and was instantly drawn to his bouncy, gender-fluid and marshmallow-like figures. After that first meeting, I invited Jeff to contribute his art to my magazine The Anonymous Sex Journal. When I was establishing Tiwa Select, I knew it would be great to have Jeff on board. I asked him to paint on giant paper globes that I had picked up in San Francisco’s Japantown. It’s amazing to see Jeff’s art on this type of surface, blown up extra large and creating big naked shadows when the globe lights up.
Oakland-based Laura practises katazome, a Japanese method of dyeing fabrics using a resist paste – in this case glutinous rice paste – applied through a stencil. Her background as a graphic designer has yielded objects with strong, punchy designs. “Starting with simplicity and precision as a North Star, the results will always be a product of my input-addled brain and human hands,” says Laura. Her first objects for the store were a set of Tegui napkins with raw, unfinished edges – so that the craft process is “never complete”, and the items continue to change in design as they age.
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