Artist Talk: Mary McEwen about her current exhibition "Hit & Miss: Adventures in Textile Reuse"
On Saturday, December 3rd at 11am, Mary McEwen will give an artist talk at the City Museum
in which she will provide information about fabrics and techniques, and will demonstrate some of the
processes and tools used to create her pieces.
Mary McEwen’s new exhibition titled, Hit & Miss: Adventures in Textile Reuse which features large-
scale woven pieces created from locally sourced scrap textiles that would otherwise be headed to the dump.
A passing comment about local waste a few years ago planted a seed in Mary McEwen’s mind and that
seed grew into the project that is Hit & Miss: Adventures in Textile Reuse. While discussing ways waste
can be diverted from Juneau’s dump, someone commented to McEwen about the lack of local textile
“I wasn’t sure what textile recycling even meant and I stumbled down a rabbit hole of the types and of
the history of textile recycling, from the high-tech (mechanical or chemical separation of fibers) to the
low-tech (rag making), from local resale (thrift stores) to the ship-it-somewhere-else options,” says
When McEwen learned that the proliferation of low-cost, low-quality clothing commonly referred to as
“fast fashion” has thrift stores, donation centers, and neighborhood free boxes overflowing, she
decided to do something about it.
“Not everything can be used and things often end up in the dump. Recent estimates give the Juneau
dump about 20 years before it is full. The U.S. EPA reports about 9 million tons of clothing are landfilled
in the U.S. annually which works out to about 60 pounds for every person. As a fiber artist, I wanted to
explore whether it would be feasible to use textiles that would be otherwise headed to the dump as
materials for creative works,” says McEwen.
McEwen chose to name her exhibition after a traditional style of rag rug called “Hit and Miss” that is
woven from a grab bag of scraps in all different colors and materials. The title Hit & Miss: Adventures in
Textile Reuse acknowledges that McEwen’s project might be a hit, or it might be a miss. “I’m taking the
angle that while this may not be a serious art, it may be a fun form of waste diversion. The cloth
materials used in the pieces all come from Juneau. I’m referring to this as “locally-sourced garbage.”
Hit & Miss: Adventures in Textile Reuse will be on display at the City Museum from December 2nd
through December 29th, 2022. The opening reception and the artist talk are free.