Sparkling sequence and plush yarn are just some of the mixture of materials that artist Rachel Denny uses in her work to cover bodies, or sometimes just heads, of animals. This Portland based artist’s work lives in a world somewhere between taxidermy and your grandmother’s craft room. Her unique take on animal trophy heads uses cashmere knitting and twine to transform what looks like the shape of the head of a dead animal. Denny’s artwork includes a diverse variety of woodland fauna, including deer, horses, goats, lambs, and even bears. Sometimes her colorful, eclectic materials, including satin, matchsticks, and pennies cover an entire body of a creature, other times it is just the head unattached to its body.
The creative and interesting use of materials used transforms the animals into something different, something very inviting and attractive, but also unnatural. The seductive sparkles of the black sequence Denny uses pulls you in closer, all the while there is a “bear” underneath. There is a theme of masking over organic beauty with our own human inventions that is apparent in the artists work. Humans often take a natural object or creature that is already beautiful, and try to improve on it. We alter it so that it fits our own needs, or that we may see it as looking even better. Although Denny’s work is incredibly bright and fun with her pastel yarn and sparkling materials, there is a dark hint of the hand that humans have on the natural environment. (via The Jealous Curator)
In a digital age, some say traditional methods are dead. However, there has been an upsurge in popularity of using old-school techniques to create new things. Fashion designer Greg Climer combines two such mediums, knitting and film, to do just that. He has transformed knitting into a way of displays film stills. By using technology to transfer frames of a film onto knit fabric, he creates a knit scarf that is used the same as a film reel that you can actually watch as a short film. What is so amazing about this project is that Climer is taking film, shifting its properties to knit fabric, and then converting it into film once more. He is ingeniously using modern technology to manipulate different, traditional mediums to create an entirely unique and contemporary finished piece.
How this process works is each frame is reduced in size so that the amount of pixels matches with the amount of stitches. Then, the colors included in the film are decreased to four, since looms can only use up to four yarn colors. Then, the scarf is ready to be knitted! This method is very time consuming, as his test strip took a year and a half to make. However, after watching just a fragment of the resulted film, the outcome is undoubtedly worth it. Greg Climer’s ambitions do not stop at his unbelievably intricate knitted short film project, but extend to creating quilts from scraps of fabric. These quilts range in a wide variety of interesting subjects; one series depicting loved ones of Climer, and another displaying stills of pornography. (via Fastco Design)
The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.
Combining fiber art, sculpture, and fashion, artist Hsiao-Chi Tsai creates beautifully designed wearable art using a variety of different textiles. He uses brightly colored fabric to construct intricate pieces that can be worn on your head and around your neck. The materials used are cut into floral-like shapes that flow organically around the person who is wearing it. A designer by nature, the artist bases these creations off his own illustrations. Because Tsai constructs his designs with such soft material, they appear comfortable despite their non-functional shape and placement. Each piece is creatively designed, utilizing asymmetrical forms and a unique color palette. Although this series, titled Wonderland, is not likely to go with anything in your closet, wearing one of Tsai’s pieces would definitely be a statement!
Creating sculptural, wearable art, this textile designer also forms brilliant installations using the same technique and style as his fashionable art pieces. Using the same textile material, Tsai builds large installations that loops, swirls, and hangs; completely transforming the spaces they are in. These pieces are much like his wearable art, using some of the same elements and cut-out fabric. Each installation is an explosion in its space, with endless gushing patterns. The surge of color in Tsai’s installations can turn any sterile space into a wonderland of cascading fabric flora. Both his wearable textile art series and his installations are uniquely sculptural and are created cleverly with an unlikely material.
London-based artist Jessica Dance specializes in creating handcrafted models, props, and sets that have a wide-range of commercial appeal clients include Vogue, Vanity Fair, Google, and more). Her work features a lot of conventional, everyday objects reimagined in a delightful, unconventional way. Dance knits food, toothbrushes, and even calculators on her domestic knitting machine, and it’s a playful twist on the real thing.
The knitted pieces are made from wool, and they look like something you’d want to snuggle up with. It’s an odd feeling to want to hug a giant turkey, but that’s the power of fiber arts (or any art, really). We attach associations to materials and sometimes nostalgia prompts us to touch, pet, or squeeze brussel sprouts and meatballs.
Fiber Arts have a longstanding history rooted in craft and tradition. Woven objects have tended to be functional or decorative, and often viewed more as the works of artisans, as opposed to artists. In the twentieth century this has begun to shift more, and in the 21st century the practice of weaving and knitting has been reclaimed and turned on its head by a number of artists that are forward thinking and highly skilled in their “craft.” Artists included here are: Olga de Amaral, Erin Riley, Olek, Ann Tilley and Andrea Sherrill Evans. It is important to note that historically weaving has been viewed as women’s work. All of the artists included in this post are women, yet appear to have adopted the practice of weaving and redefined it on their own terms, while becoming masters in the process.
Olek‘s work is an absolutely fantastical explosion of bright-textural fun. Often taking her work outside the white walls of galleries and into the streets, Olek has taken fibers to a place most thought impossible. Some of the works she has made recently include huge feats such as completely encasing the Wall Street Bull in neon crocheted and knitted camouflage pattern and re-adorning a whole locomotive in rainbow patterned softness- completely handwoven. Her work tends to encase and cover objects and people- creating whole installations, performance art costumes and beautiful sculptural objects in a sort of renegade demonstration of liberated punk-rock-quirk.
Erin M. Riley takes the images that usually live on Snapchat, Tumblr, or the privacy of your own phone and translates them into tapestries. They are pictures you wouldn’t want your parents to see. They feature naked and half naked women, drug paraphernalia, used condoms, and more. In an interview with Arrested Motion, Riley states, “I try to take pictures of the condoms after I have sex, the pictures I send to people, pictures of tables at parties, substances & liquids that change the course of events.”
If broadcasted the world, these are the type of photos that would really embarrass someone. Riley takes time to translate these experiences into large, detailed, and colorful weavings completed on a loom. In the same interview, she goes on to say, “I am taking the time to recreate these images as physical tapestries, because these are the events and objects that are significant to me. Tapestry allows images to be given more time, for hookups to gel, for mistakes to be thought over, its a way to over analyze every detail.” This is a cathartic activity for the artist, who says that there is an ebb and a flow in her images over time. Sometimes, they will be more aggressive or explicit, then scale back. Riley says that it’s a reflection in her own life, and she’s open to sharing this with her viewers. Doing so gives the opportunity to start a dialogue with people who admire, question, and collect her work. She’s happy to have conversation with people who might not broach the subject without the help of her tapestries.
Part of the success of Riley’s work is the way it is produced. She combines two different worlds; weaving, an old art form that requires a lot of skill, and the digital age, one that is very focused on instant gratification and accessible by nearly everyone.
Colleen Toutant Merrill works in fiber– from stitching to embroidery; and interestingly enough, it makes sense that she would use such a traditional folk medium to examine contemporary subject matter such as social media, Google, and Google Maps. These Internet resources are, essentially, a modern day electronic quilt of sorts, piecing together not only our societal curiosities or interests, but also our performative identities in a community.
On this note, Merrill explains, “Quilting bees and embroidery traditionally served as social outlets and communication. Quilts and embroidery both have encoded symbolism and explicit messages as do digital communications.”