As an artist selected for inclusion in the Columbus Museum of Art's contemporary "Currents" series, San Francisco-based Stephanie Syjuco was invited by curator Lisa Dent to peruse the institution's collections for inspiration.

As an artist selected for inclusion in the Columbus Museum of Art's contemporary "Currents" series, San Francisco-based Stephanie Syjuco was invited by curator Lisa Dent to peruse the institution's collections for inspiration.

"When I realized the museum had one of the largest collections of coverlets in the country, I felt like I'd found a gold mine," Syjuco recalled.

The Don and Jean Stuck Coverlet Collection holds more than 300 handmade bed coverings - popular items in the U.S. for most of the 19th century. The artisans who wove them had immigrated to America from Western Europe, hoping to find new work as their trade was consumed abroad by the Industrial Revolution. (Eventually, the same thing would happen here.)

The coverlets' history fit well with the artist's previous work, which has explored the effects of mass production and the economy on labor and the individual .

Syjuco links the coverlet-makers' era to ours by pairing traditional handmade work with an object currently found in immigrant communities around the world: cheap, plastic, plaid luggage that's mass-produced in China.

"They're really an indication of this huge group of people who have to be mobile because of the economy," Syjuco said.

Commissioning contemporary weavers, she had the plaid pattern recreated in wool wall hangings, which are shown alongside two exceptional coverlets from the Stuck Collection (more hang in an adjacent gallery). They're on view with plastic luggage samples, which are placed next to a copycat set that Syjuco made out of wool.

As she explained, "In a sense, it's taking the mass production process and turning it into a process insanely touched by human hands."