fiber art

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Art Craft

Loose Fibers Billow Out of Warped Ceramic Sculptures by Artist Nicole McLaughlin

January 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Nicole McLaughlin, shared with permission

“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.

 

 

 



Art

Suspended Blossoms and Patchwork Characters Imagine a Pastel Universe of Overabundance

November 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“T. A. U. B. I. S.” (2020). All images © Tau Lewis, courtesy of Cooper Cole, shared with permission

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.

Follow Lewis’s delicate works on Instagram, and head to Cooper Cole’s site to view her recent artist talk. (via Contemporary Art Daily)

 

“Symphony” (2020)

“T. A. U. B. I. S.” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Symphony” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

 

 



Art

Arresting Sculptural Reliefs by Artist Anne Samat Layer Everyday Objects with Meticulously Woven Threads

November 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches. Installation view of Asia Society Triennial: “We Do Not Dream Alone” at Asia Society Museum, New York. Photograph by Bruce M. White. All images courtesy of Asia Society, shared with permission

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.

 

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 98 x 48 x 7 inches

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches.

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 98 x 48 x 7 inches

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 98 x 48 x 7 inches (left) and 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches (center)

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches

“Follow Your Heart Wholeheartedly” (2020), rattan sticks, yarn, rakes, washers, plastic swords, toy soldiers, beads, metal and plastic ornaments, 131.5 x 141.75 x 11.75 inches (center) and 105 x 48 x 7 inches (right)

 

 



Art Craft

Hand-Tufted Patches of Color Form Lush Fiber Portraits by Artist Simone Saunders

June 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Black Lives Matter II,” 23 x 32 inches. All images © Simone Saunders, shared with permission

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.”

To keep up with Saunders’s socially engaged projects, follow her on Instagram, and several of the artworks shown here are available for purchase on her site. (via Design Milk)

 

“G a i a,” 23 x 33 inches

“Little One”

“Justice for Ahmaud” (2020), 23 x 31 inches

“It Matters” (2020)

“It Matters” (2020)

 

 



Art Craft

Concentric Circles of Tufted Wool and Natural Fibers Shape Giant Wall Hangings by Artist Tammy Kanat

March 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Pines” (2019), wool, linen, silk, fibers, copper frame, 150 x 218 centimeters. All images © 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.

“Web” (2019), wool, silk, and copper, 150 x 120 centimeters

“Pines” (2019), wool, linen, silk, fibers, copper frame, 150 x 218 centimeters

“Rainbow Peak” (2020), tapestry wool and copper frame, 2.3 meters diameter

“Nurture” (2019), wool, silk, metal, copper, 130 x 128 centimeters

 

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Art Craft

Extravagant Masks by threadstories Offer Cultural Commentary on Selfhood and Social Media

March 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © threadstories, shared with permission

Covered in full-face masks of fringe and knotted details, threadstories (previously) explores the tension between contemporary portrayals of public and private life. The Irish artist poses in front of gray backdrops for her self-portraits that obscure her face and only sometimes reveal a set of eyes or a mouth through the crocheted exterior.

threadstories tells Colossal that the process for creating each piece is similar. She begins by crocheting the balaclava—sometimes adding space for further detail like pointed ears or a hand-drawn face—before crafting various tufts and dense patches. “The yarns I use when tufting will create an endless array of outcomes from the same technique,” she writes. “The choice of yarn can mean the difference between a mask with a lot of movement or a mask with a strong form that can be brushed and manipulated to hold numerous forms.”

Once she’s photographed the finished project, threadstories deconstructs the pieces to transform them into a new extravagant work. “Generally speaking, I am working intuitively, no design or drawings in advance. I am thinking with my hands,” she says. “For me, it is the photograph or mask on film that is the artwork, not the physical mask. I don’t create pieces like a designer might. The masks are always in a state of flux.”

Each fiber-based creations serves as a visual representation of how people obscure their lives, both intentionally and not, for public consumption. “The masks are sometimes monstrous, other times farcical façades that poke at the performative nature social media cultivates and celebrates,” she writes. Each caption helps build a narrative.

threadstories is questioning how the erosion of personal privacy in the digital age shapes how we view and portray ourselves online. The masks deny the viewer the full story of who the sitter is, echoing the curated or false personas we view online daily. My masks are photographed against a sanitised white square. I know there is often chaos, mess and noise just beyond the margins of that photograph, but the messiness of life doesn’t make the edit for social media.

Find more of the artist’s work that intersects art and cultural commentary on Instagram.

 

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