Carol Cassidy is a textile designer. She was born in Woodbury, Connecticut; she lives in Vientiane, Laos. Cassidy studied weaving in Norway, Finland, and the United States. She also studied political science, among other subjects. She then spent nearly ten years working on weaving projects for the United Nations in Africa and the Caribbean. During this period, she helped many women weavers who lived in the countryside to establish small textile businesses to help support their families.
In 1989, Cassidy moved to Vientiane to work as a consultant on a weaving project for the United Nations. Impressed by the technical skills of Lao weavers, she was motivated in 1990 to found Lao Textiles, an independent weaving studio dedicated to the production of hand-woven silk textiles inspired by traditional Lao textiles. Applying her own design, technical, and business experience, she worked with local weavers to produce textiles that transformed traditional motifs and colors in innovative ways. With Lao Textiles, she has shown how applying contemporary innovations to traditional arts such as silk weaving can be a source not only of cultural preservation, but of sustainable economic development. The studio has brought wider attention to Lao textiles, renewed dignity to the profession of hand weaving, and steady employment for many workers. It has become a model for other weaving enterprises throughout Southeast Asia.
In her textile art, Cassidy combines her study of the Lao textile tradition with her knowledge of contemporary international developments. She and her highly accomplished weavers work together not only to make replicas of historical textiles, but to combine elements of the traditional designs and techniques to produce new works that preserve and enhance an integral part of Lao culture. A major exhibition of Cassidy's textile art was organized by the Museum of Craft & Folk Art in San Francisco in 2004.