with fiber art
In just 12 days, Jakarta-based fiber artist Agnes Hansella fashioned a staggering trio of macramé installations that hang from a ceiling in Bali. Each of the knotted works spans more than 37 feet wide, cloaking the open-air structure in fringed fibers that evoke the coastal surroundings of Jimbaran. Titled “Mountain,” “Ocean,” and “Sunset,” the wall hangings reflect the natural environment through asymmetric patches reminiscent of coral, waves, and birds.
Alongside a team of artists she hadn’t worked with previously, Hansella cut manila ropes with a hacksaw and balanced on scaffolding to assemble the massive works. All three began with rough sketches and evolved on-site. “I was never good with drawing pictures, so the finished design is mostly something I came up with on location. I change them a lot based on my instinct and situation. With macramé techniques, the ropes have their own will and character so as the artist I follow them and see what can and can not work,” she tells Colossal. The trio was commissioned by Flowerbloom Studio.
Currently, Hansella is working on a smaller work for a villa in Bahrain and plans to explore tufting and fiber sculpture in the coming months. She sells macramé supplies, wall hangings, and functional objects in her shop, and you can follow her latest projects on Instagram.
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“As a product of an American father and a Mexican mother, I am influenced by the conflicting expectations I have received as a woman within my two cultures,” says artist Nicole McLaughlin. From her studio in Marion, Massachusetts, McLaughlin combines historically domestic crafts—ceramics and fiber art—into striking sculptures that explore identity and heritage, particularly in relation to gendered expectations, traditions, and the changes that occur as generations pass.
In her mixed-media works, the artist contrasts the soft, pliable fibers with the fragility of the plates painted with blue-and-white motifs. Dyed in subtle gradients and earth tones, the loose threads are woven through the sloping ceramic edges and knotted in the center. McLaughlin explains how it’s important that the utility of both elements is removed once combined:
(The vessels) serve as vehicles for fiber. As the fiber flows from, weaves into, or frames the ceramic, it distorts the functionality but becomes a meaningful component as plate and cloth merge. The vessels contain an expression of femininity and an essence of personal and cultural history.
These dichotomies in the materials also reflect the artist’s experience eschewing “the feminine ideals of my Mexican identity,” she says. “I am a force, and I think I tend to push the boundaries of what might be within the female expectation in Mexican culture.”
Currently, McLaughlin is serving as a teaching fellow at Tabor Academy. She sells some smaller ceramic pieces in her shop, and you can follow her work on Instagram, where she also shares glimpses into her process.
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Considering the possibilities of non-gendered motherhood, Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis stitches together oversized characters and floral tendrils that occupy a lavish fictional world. Textured swatches of fabric transform stark gallery space into pastel gardens and the idyllic universe of the “T. A. U. B. I. S.,” or the bulging-eyed creature with a protruding tongue shown above. Teeming with themes of compassion, joy, and freedom, the sprawling works evoke birth and the warmth of a womb filled with light.
Part of the collection titled Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls—which closed last week at Toronto’s Cooper Cole—Lewis’s installations imagine an environment centered around abundance, which she explains:
Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.
A self-taught artist based in Brooklyn, Lewis hand-dyes vintage curtains, bed sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing that she sews into quilts and looming sculptural figures. Her body of work generally explores multiple facets of trauma and the ways manual labor can provide healing. From the textiles gathered throughout Toronto, New York, and her family’s home in Negril, Jamaica, Lewis patches together representations of community members and ancestors. “The transformative act of repurposing these materials recalls practices of resourcefulness in diasporic contexts; upcycling is a recuperative act that reclaims both agency and memory,” she says in a statement.
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Arresting Sculptural Reliefs by Artist Anne Samat Layer Everyday Objects with Meticulously Woven Threads
In her fiber-based reliefs, Malaysian artist Anne Samat disrupts classic woven patterns with unusual objects: toy soldiers, rakes, and plastic swords are intertwined in the multi-color threads that fan outward and billow down onto the floor. Comprised of a trio of wall hangings and a free-standing sculpture, “Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” meticulously juxtaposes beadwork and traditional South Asian weaving techniques with common items, a project that questions the boundaries of craft and art.
Each section is incredibly complex and infused with references to Samat’s family, identity, and experiences with loss. The largest work, for example, features five sections, with the innermost piece paying homage to her late brother who recently died after a long illness. Flanking the central portion are two stately pillars with pink and blue details that represent her mother and father. The outermost layers that sprawl from floor to ceiling evoke the artist herself and her sister, who are the only two living members of her family. Even the title is derived from advice Samat received from her father before he died.
“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” is on view through February 7, 2021, as part of the Asia Society Triennial.
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Alberta-based artist Simone Saunders hand-tufts bold, colorful portraits with themes of identity and Black history woven throughout. Crafting vibrant patches of fibers that form eyes, lips, and garments, Saunders casts her earnest subjects against austere backgrounds, which sometimes are marked with “Black Lives Matter.”
The textured artworks serve as a site for conversation, prompting questions about race relations and societal injustices. “Textiles engage upon a search for belonging: studying the Black female body, personal identities, and a connection to Black history,” the artist tells Colossal. “I create colorful portraits of Black people who are leaders within their respective disciplines: the arts, music, sports, advocacy. It’s important to carry forward their message and have their legacy move through different channels, like my textiles.”
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Concentric Circles of Tufted Wool and Natural Fibers Shape Giant Wall Hangings by Artist Tammy Kanat
Beginning with asymmetrical ovals and amorphous shapes, Australian textile artist Tammy Kanat (previously) loops, twists, and weaves her sizable wall hangings. Using a steel frame, Kanat hangs up the copper forms that provide the structure for her abstract tapestries. She then combines natural materials like wool, linen, and silk to create small tufts and organic rows of varying hues that add a range of densities and textures to each piece.
Kanat tells Colossal that in recent years, she’s begun to identify a greater symbiosis between her fibrous works. “My process has become more intricate with a connected sense of freedom and experimentation. I am working with 3D shapes and continually pushing the boundaries of colours, textures and the unexpected,” she says.
The artist often shares production videos on Instagram for those who want a deeper look into her creative process. Kanat also is featured in Woven Together: Weavers & Their Stories, a new release from Gingko Press.
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