I quickly and excitedly walked my family over to the work I had finished for the Sculpture and Ceramics show at the American Sign Museum. This piece I had recently finished was quite the artistic breakthrough in my work with the introduction of LED lighting throughout the work, and it was also the longest “woobie” that had been made at that date. There it stood, in all it’s glory: mounted high upon the beam that supported the ceiling, a falling tendril of warm, arm knitted material that softly contrasted with the chilled, isolated lights that pulsated through the weave like veins. They scoped out the work, viewing every inch; from what I could tell, my family seemed rather pleased with my accomplishment. After a few moments, though, I began to feel that I had mistaken my grandmother’s excitement.
“I think this is really nice, but I’m just curious…This isn’t meant to be an insult, but…are you making anything else?”
My heart sank. I was used to a sense of dissatisfaction from my parents from time to time, but not from one of the three members of my family that had been supporting the conceptual and aesthetic steps I’d taken thus far. The emotions were so visible across my face that it was almost as if someone had written them in red ink across my forehead. I could not fathom how she did not see the art behind this work: The way it gracefully slinked and swayed down the beam and coiled onto the floor. How could she not see the aesthetic delicacy of each loop that had once hugged my arms, as the working threads were pulled tight? Her mind and heart were closed to the beauty of the concept, and she was the only one who held the key to its passage.
All the possible ways of working with fiber contain tradition. Passed down from one generation to another, they hold the keys to our past and future in the twisting of their fibers. Depending on the ways the fibers are activated, different aspects of its magic are released to the viewer. The strength that is embedded deeply in these materials is equivalent to the hexagon; and, these fibers make up a lot of objects we depend on in day-to-day life. For my family, the prized material of the fiber kingdom comes in the form of white and cream knits and wools. “Woobie”, a term so lovingly created for this material, has the ability to cure any sort of problem or ailment one might encounter. My work has progressively developed into homage to the aesthetic quality, tactility, and ability of this material, and I only see it growing from this point.
Various techniques of making have been studied through my studio practices this year. I have also focused on the differences between using tools to fabricate these materials and employing my own body to rely on their construction. Through these techniques and different ways of fabrication, I am doing my best to capture time, along with the power that is invested so heavily in this miraculous material. I’d like for my work with these fibers to suspend disbelief in my viewers and allow them to see the true magic behind these materials of choice. Possible methods of doing so could also include found objects to enhance the power stowed away in the fabricated materials.
The work I plan to do for my final work that will be shown during DAAPWorks will have all of the aesthetics and technical characteristics previously mentioned. I’d like to draw inspiration from different techniques, materials, and readings on these traditional practices, along with the work I have currently been making. One of the most recent objects I’ve created focuses on the materials taking the shape of larger objects and creating a new aesthetic through their additions and strengths. Chicken wire and LED rope lighting served as the structures in which to cover, and with the techniques and materials I was able to create a work that lived not only in a well-lit room, but also in the dark. It seems as though different aspects of the materials are activated depending on whether the piece is shown in the dark or the light, which inspires me to do further investigations of the material’s power. I’d also like to look at the presentation options and styles of artists such as Ann Hamilton, Jackie Winsor, Orly Genger, and Petah Coyne. These artists provide a multitude of presentation options and the majority of them also focus on various fiber materials.
The magic is in these materials that we overlook each and everyday. Artists all over the world and through numerous generations have accessed its power and ability to be more than just a fiber. Suspend disbelief, and allow yourself to see the strength and power that lies in the “woobie”.