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Artist Biography


Rhetorical Factory is the work of Bethany Adams.

I started the factory to have a place to do creative work, at first not knowing exactly what would be made there. I cannot remember a time when my favorite thing wasn’t making something with my hands. I began to knit at age eight, when I was in fourth grade I created and sold holiday jewelry from oven-bake clay. Ever since my interests have only expanded, including music and photography, and now textiles!

Growing up in Northern Idaho and Berlin, Germany, I have been fortunate to be exposed to plenty of different perspectives, time periods, and modes of expression. The experiences I had eventually allowed me to understand how my interest in art could be fused with every day life. The first sign of this discovery for me was digital photography.

During my early years exploring the art form, my camera was always at my side. It was healing and inspiring to see our world through the lens of my Canon Rebel, and I understand now how it brought me to my next insight.

I headed to Wilmington, North Carolina after high school to attend college with a friend from Germany. Really it only took two weeks for me to ask the question I should have thought about much sooner. After spending one semester at school I acted on the decision to pursue creativity. I moved to Asheville.

In school I had two classes that really turned things around. Social Problems and English 103. I found out sweatshops still exist, that at almost every level of large scale clothing production, people and places are being exploited. I don’t believe we want to wear clothing that is a product of such things, but few know the truth.

I had a great professor for English 103 who taught us how to understand and illustrate philosophical ideas. We read essays from many scholars, all of which impacted me. But when I read Paulo Friere’s explanation of systems of learning, things started making even more sense. The question mark had become the symbol I used for my work when I was still in high school, the word "rhetorical" a few years later, but it wasn’t until I walked out the double doors and into the fall sunshine in Wilmington, that I realized just how deeply those symbols related to my own philosophy of life. Now the Rhetorical question mark reminds me to engage in the day with an attitude of wonder.

Only by questioning ourselves and the way we live can we ever see our mistakes and our successes. Questions shed light in a sometimes dark and ever changing world our only chance at progress is to ask why.

So for me, art is a big question mark, it looms before me containing all the mysteries of life, and I can do nothing but run towards it. I do not know what my medium will be from year to year or what dire straights my stubborn pursuit of expression will bring me to, but I am thankful for them and feel honored that I am here to receive the lessons.

"For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other." — Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

 

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Our clothes represent a philosophy. A way of using business to inspire change in the world. Business doesn’t have to be as black and white as increasing profits every year. While profit is vital for keeping everything together, our priorities will not be compromised for it. By avoiding new materials and paying for the them locally when needed, by choosing locally owned establishments to do business with, by refusing to create waste, by paying a living wage and encouraging locally sustained lifestyle, we can be 100% Good. When there is enough support it will work for the entire community - taking away from nothing to add value to whomever takes part.