Shipping news; sales pitch

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Every once in a while, someone writes in about a shipping disaster or problem, but today, I’m writing about one woman’s solution.

Kathryn Pannepacker
, she of the mini-rugs strewn all around the 2005 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the rug mural at Belmont and Girard, had to ship one of her weavings–“7000 Q-Tips”–to Lithuania (top image, “7000 Q-Tips”).

She was super excited, the piece having been accepted by Textile 05, an international biennial in Kaunas, Lithuania . She said she was one of perhaps three Americans in the show, which also included artists from places like South Africa, Israel and Japan (here’s a link to the exhibiting artists).

“Great, you get into a show but how do you get the piece over there? I called UPS, Fedex, DHL, the U.S. Postal Service.” The piece is 64 x 62 inches and lightweight but she couldn’t fold it; rolling it up was the only option. At $800 for shipping, or outright rejection for size, she felt the show slipping out of reach.

Honey, we just play cards

“Then I had this cooky idea and looked in phone book under Lithuania. Sure enough, I found a Lithuanian Club or something like that and called, and an older guy answered the phone and he said, ‘Honey we just play cards and dance here.'”

Undeterred, she told him her problem and he suggested she contact Polish-American Travel Services. The little travel agency shipped the rug for $80 in a 12″ x 67″ long tube box.

Shipping Kathryn

“After I fig’d out how get my piece over there, i wanted to get myself there.” She saw it as a great opportunity to learn about Lithuanian textiles as well as to network. Besides, giving herself permission to go was a political issue for her. “I decided to break my own glass ceiling.” But again, money was an issue.

She put out a letter to alert people to a couple things — the mural dedication, and the Textile 05 exhibition and the decision that she wanted to get herself over there. She also wrote that she was holding a bang-up studio sale during the already-scheduled POST tour to fund her trip to Lithuania for 12 days of independent textile study. “I did it before in Turkey; travel’s really important in my work.”

The plan worked. “I sold a bunch of work and went to Lithuania. I also let people know that when I returned, I would have a thank you party for patrons, ‘Works While in Lithuania.'” Pannepacker said she does narrative paintings whenever she’s traveling, and has held shows just like this after her trips to Japan and Turkey.

Here’s her report on her trip to Lithuania:

My Lithuania trip was incredible… the country was dipped in yellow with birch trees in autumn. I met wonderful people. Kaunas was loaded with textile events around the biennale at the museum. I had the opportunity to give a slide presentation and do my
outdoor weaving ditties [like the tiny rugs she scattered around at the 2005 Fringe] with the students both at the university in Kaunas, and in the capital city of Vilnius.

I also met the “keepers of the archives” of the folk textiles at the local museums and learned more about the rich history of weaving there. This is fascinating seeing how amazing the contemporary textile scene is there… artists pushing the envelope with materials and technique, for example.

I…hope to return in two years to do a project with another textile artist.

By the way, “7000 Q-Tips” was a 2004 Fringe Festival project, with Pannepacker weaving it right near the box office (here’s a link to a photo of Pannepacker in action). She said people came over and started to laugh when they saw her materials, which included wool and cotton as well as the q-tips, which she purchased at the dollar store, $1/1,000 (image, detail of “7000 Q-Tips”).

Pannepacker said the rug reflects underpaid labor–the q-tip factory workers and her own labor-intensive, underpaid reuse of the product [I believe she’s using the term q-tip here as generic and not referring to the specific brand.]

Pannepacker originally told me this whole tale when we met at the opening of the off-beat “Roumania Redrawn” exhibit at Photo West Gallery. More on that one coming.

Thanksgiving post script

Happy turkey day!!! I’m taking the day off.

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