The Illuminated Stitch
Land Divided by Law is available in paper and electronic formats at, Quid Pro Books, and other leading sites.
The Illuminatrix is available at, Quid Pro Books, and other leading sites.
I am a textile artist, lawyer, and historian whose work explores how the margins between things that are separate erode, shift, and change over time.

My work examines how cultures define themselves and one another as they compete for shared natural resources, a theme I examined through research of Native american and Anglo-European resource use in the Pacific Northwest, Land Divided by Law (Quid Pro Books, 2014) and in a book of fiction, The Illuminatrix (Quid Pro Books, 2012).  

My deconstructed and reconstructed textiles and drawings further explore intersections at the edges of surfaces, both created and found.  

What we create illuminates who we are.

Barbara Leibhardt Wester
Summer Work
Borders heads to Something Boro-d Something Blue exhibit at The Brush Art Gallery in Lowell, MA, August 4 - September 15, 2018.
Old and new visions
Patched and restritched
Create territories and borders.
Who is inside?
Who is outside?
What connects our shared humanity?

The Brush Gallery's "Something Boro-d Something Blue," juried exhibit centers on quilts "influenced by the Japanese Boro traditions and techniques of layered and stitched patchwork."  Boro arose as a centuries-old functional textile form of peasants, driven by scarcity of fabrics and availability of indigo dyes.  I am honored that Borders will be part of this exhibit, which runs between August 4 and September 15, 2018 at The Brush Gallery in Lowell, MA.

In thinking about my entry for this exhibit, I wanted to emphasize my personal relationship to the different textiles i incorporated, most of which originated in very functional pieces from the past and all of which I'd hand-dyed.  the main fabric for this piece, constituting most of the background, comes from table linens that belonged to my husband's mother, a chef and caterer, and that she would have used frequently for her dinner parties.  The numbered fabric was part of a sloper I made for a skirt pattern.  The dark blue fabric rectangles are from a length of linen that I bought in NYC many years ago.  

Most of these fabrics had an aborted life as part of a textile project I never completed -- an ambitious attempt to reproduce Jasper John's Near the Lagoon as close as possible as I could get in scale and color -- which proved hugely unwieldy once I got it underway.

But more than simply reinventing and reincarnating pieces of fabric, I wanted this piece to provide a point of reflection for what's happening in our country today.  Studying cultural intersections and borders has been a central focus of my working life and right now in the United States and all over the world we are engaging in a life and death struggle over real people and real borders that is reshaping who we are as a nation and as individual citizens. There has never been a more vital moment to ask ourselves who we are as individuals, as a nation, and as citizens of a shared planet.

Borders is 35 x 24.5", and is made of hand dyed, vintage cotton and linen fabrics, and machine stitched with cotton thread.