“Fiber Trails celebrates the rich heritage and universal language of textiles. Where there are people there is cloth. When I travel, I seek out textiles and their makers and am inspired by the diverse cultures and varied landscapes I encounter.” Cameron Taylor-Brown
My recent Fiber Trails exhibit at the Branch Gallery featured four series of artwork inspired by travel journeys – Red Offerings (Bhutan), Majestic Stone (Peruvian Highlands), Colors of Gujarat (India) and LAVAfolds (Galapagos Islands, Ecuador). Work in the exhibit included mixed media fiber collage, weaving and a site-specific installation. In addition to the opening reception, I presented a talk with images of landscapes, people and their traditional textiles and discussed how travel influences my artwork.
When I began making the work that became Red Offerings, it was a subconscious process with no particular outcome in mind. Initially I wrapped wooden sticks together and later constructed several translucent red fabric screens. An idea emerged to project photographic images of RED/Bhutan onto the screens to see what would happen.
The images were abstracted yet recognizable, and danced across the screens with a magical, ephemeral grace.
Prayer flags are hung at eye level throughout Bhutan, and I often viewed the country through the scrim of these flags. I happened to capture an image of a monk passing behind a red prayer flag, and now realize how much this image shaped the form and content of what became Red Offerings. A chili altar inspired the title. We encountered an offering of red chilies and assorted beans in a grassy field below the Cheri Monastery. These offerings often appear as integral parts of the Bhutanese landscape – an offering is made and then left for all who encounter it – including cows, which were already doing their best to eat the ingredients when we happened along.
On a trip to the Peruvian Highlands, we observed Incan stonework throughout the Sacred Valley and the city of Cusco, often still in use as foundations and walls of newer buildings. Majestic Stone takes its name from a collection of contemporary Jacquard fabric samples that were originally headed for the dumpster. Instead, I paired these fabrics with my photographs of Incan stonework to create an interplay of metaphor and meaning. My own remnants from previous projects are woven into each piece, adding additional layers of materiality. The series celebrates the cultural continuity and resilience of the indigenous Quechua people and embraces reuse, repurposing, and rebirth.
COLORS OF GUJARAT
I accompanied my good friend Jean on a buying trip in and around Bhuj, a town in the state of Gujarat in India where I was her enthusiastic and wide-eyed sidekick. Jean introduced me to stellar textile artisans and dealers and we visited two textile schools that help traditional artisans learn how to market their work internationally. A day trip to Dholavira, ruins from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, was particularly meaningful since it was the first civilization to spin and weave cotton. This trip to India continues to enrich my life with on-going experiences – interacting with talented people from Gujarat who share my passion for beautiful hand-crafted fabrics. I have hosted workshops at ARTSgarage for artisans when they are stateside to participate in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe. And in 2015, Jean and I journeyed to London with our husbands and viewed the work of these same artisans in the Fabric of India exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The series that emerged from my trip to Gujarat reflects the rich and vibrant colors of the textiles, the dyestuff, the spices, and the delicious food we were served – often prepared by the families we visited.
I’ve worked on this series intermittently over the past several years and it encompasses both mixed media photo collages and weaving.
A family trip to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador resulted in this series. My son Peter took a number of wonderful pictures and I fell in love with a particular photograph he took of a lava flow at Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. His picture intrigued me because lava, an extremely hard material, looks like it could be fabric – hence the title of the series – LAVAfolds. I captured various portions of his photograph, printed each onto fabric, cut them into irregular wefts and wove them into new configurations. I love the quilted dimensionality derived from such an unlikely source. I also love that my son Peter provided the inspiration for this series.
Fiber Trails was exhibited from October 7 – November 5th 2017 at the Branch Gallery in Inglewood, CA, a fiber-based art space that emphasizes both exhibition and education in its 1500 square feet of multifaceted space. Providing opportunities exclusively for the fiber arts, Branch Gallery allows fiber artists to share their work and techniques with the broader Los Angeles arts community. Bringing more attention to fiber as a fine art, along with its presence as a craft, will inspire others to create their own tactile fiber experiences. Branch Gallery is a project of The Knitting Tree, L.A., a fiber retail space recently relocated to Los Angeles’ Inglewood.
Cameron Taylor-Brown, pictured with her family, studied fiber art at the University of California, Berkeley with artist Ed Rossbach and textile design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. She worked in New York City as a fabric stylist, taught textile design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Jefferson) and worked as an exhibition curator. Since 1985, Taylor-Brown has lived in Los Angeles where she is active in arts and education. She is a board member of the Fowler Textile Council and Textile Arts Los Angeles, and was a past President of California Fibers and Designing Weavers. She recently founded ARTSgarage, a textile resource center in Los Angeles. Her work is widely exhibited and has been featured in Fiber Art Now, American Craft, Handwoven and Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot. She teaches workshops throughout the United States and Canada.