Finding out about Japanese “Boro” textiles earlier this year was an exciting eye-opener for me — one of those moments when you’re reminded how different cultures can be wordlessly connected through the shared use (or even independent development of) similar visual motifs and artistic techniques. (Although I know many scholarly types warn that any cross-cultural comparisons are fraught with “eye of the beholder”-type danger.) I was able to see the 2002 (?) Whitney exhibition of quilts developed by the Gee’s Bend community in Alabama and was really into it at the time, although I now have more mixed feelings about the Gee’s Bend phenomenon, in part from seeing a documentary about the “discovery” of the quilts — their acceptance into and elevation by white culture, etc. (I’d love to find a really good critically written article about the subject). But that’s another topic altogether! What I’m really getting to is that in the same way I like many of the Gee’s Bends quilts I also like Japanese Boro textiles and am interested by the similarities between some of them — although I can only guess it’s completely coincidental. Above top: a Boro textile from Kathleen Taylor’s collection here in San Francisco. Below, a quilt by Lucy Mooney featured in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend (Tinwood Books).