b'Soft PowerMagnus af PetersensIf the work of women artists has been undervalued for reasons that have nothing to do with artistic qualitywhich is generally accepted as a fact, after years of feminist cultural activism and scholarshipthen women art-ists working with textiles, traditionally considered a craft rather than a fine art, have been even more discriminated against. This is not least because of textile crafts connotations with femininity, the everyday, the domestic, and with intimacy, mending, and care. In the 1960s and 70s, when the womens movement embraced undervalued forms of female creativity, it particularly emphasized textile art. Yet some women artists, such as the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, did not think of themselves as feminists, even if their work inspired such interpretations. Modern Weaving and Textiles from the BauhausModern and contemporary textile art, such as weaving, embroidery, and other sculptural fiber work, have roots in ancient traditions, but the tran-sition of textiles from the status of craft to an artistic medium without util-itarian function came in the 1960s and 70s. This was a global movement but had roots in different local histories and motivations and was various-ly expressed. Textiles are central to just about every culture in the world, but some fabrics and techniques are specific to a cultural context : lace, for example, being particular to Europe, and ikat almost exclusive to Southeast Asia. 1Many artists who turned to textiles were also interested in different techniques and traditions and traveled to learn from fellow artists /makers in different parts of the world. In the United States and in much of Europe, the surge of weaving and fiber art in this period had been prepared by the weavers of the Bauhaus school in postWorld War I Germany. In the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Bauhaus worked to erase the barriers between art and craft, even if the topic was debated among different factions of the school. One of the most important forerunners was Anni Albers, who enrolled in the Bauhaus in 1922 and studied weaving. The schools weaving workshop was the only one that accepted women, since the schools founder, the architect Walter Gropius, believed that women were only capable of thinking in two dimensions while men could think in three. Nevertheless, in 1949 Albers be-came the first textile artist to have a solo exhibition at New Yorks Museum of Modern Art. Albers was also important as an educator, teaching first at the Bauhaus, then, after escaping Nazi Germany for the United States with her husband, the artist Josef Albers, at Black Mountain College, North Car-olina, and subsequently at Yale University. The Finnish-American weaver Marianne Strengell, who directed the weaving department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, from 1942 to 1962, was another important pioneer and teacher for a new generation of textile artists. Both Albers and Strengell worked as designers for the textile industry and collaborated with architects, winning status and respect that was otherwise a male privilege. This helped pave the way for textile art. 2Another pioneer was Leonore Tawney, who broke with convention by using'