Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
My practice is very iterative, so essentially one piece builds upon the previous. First I make rough sketches to figure out the scale and structural configuration. I put on long warps (the vertical yarns which are threaded on the loom) which give me the opportunity to make multiple pieces within a given set of parameters. I usually have an idea for 1-2 pieces on a warp, and then leave the rest up for experimentation within those restrictions. I find that giving myself these limitations from the start brings me the most freedom to explore an idea.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
I am immensely inspired by artists who have taken textiles into the realm of sculpture such as Lenore Tawney, Francoise Grossen, and Sheila Hicks. When I was at RISD a friend gave me a catalogue from the 1969 “Wall Hangings” exhibition at MoMA that she found at a flea market, which was very influential.
You often use unconventional and often salvaged materials to create compositions that address structure, tension, form and negative space, can you tell us about this?
The language of my work comes out of an intrigue with biomorphic structures, architecture, and the intersection of natural phenomena with the built environment. I’m interested in how nature structures itself in order to survive, and that persistence amidst human-made barriers. Through the tension and network of the wrapped, bursting fibers I am attempting to construct my own sort of support systems. I believe that structure and repetition bring order to our otherwise chaotic lives.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
The material is essential to the concept of the work. In many cases I will find a material, and design the work in a way that accentuates it to it’s fullest potential. That is where a lot of the untwisting and deconstructing of the ropes comes in. By releasing a fiber from it’s tightly coiled state, it reveals a sort of liveliness that harkens back to its origins as a plant. Of course some of the materials I work with are synthetic and unveil different surprises when untwisted. With the salvaged marine ropes for example, a pastel green could unfurl into vibrant neon tendrils when pulled apart, due to the way that salt and sun have faded the outer layer.
I have a very egalitarian relationship with my materials— the silks are as important as the rope from the dump— there is something to learn from all of it. The works which use the synthetics have a more obvious message about environmental concerns and excess accumulation of micro plastics in our water systems. On the flip side, I have been working with a fiber called Kenaf, which comes from a plant which is very sustainable in it’s production. It is rapidly renewable, requires little water to grow and absorbs large amounts of CO2.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Besides all of my weaving equipment, without which there would be no work, I would say that graph paper and pencil are my most important tools. I rarely show my sketches because they are crude and oftentimes unattractive, but they are essential in the mapping out of the warp parameters.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
Right now I am focusing on some exciting commissions, and am in the planning process of larger scale works.
Tactile Lines II and III.
Untitled (Haystack Lobster Weaving).