Anni Albers: On Weaving
The weavings and writings of Anni Albers influence my design and artistic sensibilities. Albers was concerned with the technical aspects of weaving, as well as using it as a medium of artistic expression. Albers was a trailblazer as a woman in design – playing an essential role in attaining the recognition of weaving as an art form.
The Bauhaus methodology and approach from craft to design in the early 20th century was very influential in my education. When I was in school at Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science, I was fortunate to have established a mentorship with notable Bauhaus scholar Sigrid Wortmann Weltge. As an art history professor and researcher, her work informed the foundation of my understanding of design and its relevance in historical context. The name of this site and online community is inspired by her book Bauhaus Textiles: Women Artists and the Weaving Workshop.
I wanted to create a community online where textile artists and designers can talk about weaving and craft and art and design; where they intersect and how they inform one another.
Creativity is a personal and universal expression.
Inspired by Albers Chapter 8 from On Weaving
Our tactile sensibility and our perception of touch informs our daily life. We have a tactile language.
My weaving involves a variety of sampling using unconventional materials to interpret images of texture. Woven textures are interpreted from photographs. as non-verbal communication of emotion.
I use a Tactile Notebook as a reflective space and place to document the technical and visual details of your woven compositions.
For each sample I weave, I create a tactile page, playing with materials, techniques, and words to make concrete the vital elements of the tactile experience in the weaving. All of the elements have relevance and contribute to a non-verbal narrative. Documenting my process is an important part of this artistic pursuit.
Art & Technology
My approach to art making is through a lens of materiality. I love to experiment with materials. And technology.
As a key Bauhaus ideal of unifying creativity and manufacturing, art & technology working together is apparent in the works of Bauhaus Weavers. Albers spoke of the Jacquard mechanism as a blessing and an additional tool for designer’s to create functional, aesthetically beautiful cloth. She embraced its capabilities and achieved astonishing results.
The fabric on the left is a handwoven swatch woven on an 8 harness loom. It was scanned and recreated as a Jacquard woven upholstery fabric.
[Proof of Concept] Contemporary art textiles on the jacquard loom. In 2016, I purchased a painting, No. 74 from artist Elyce Abrams from her 100 Paintings Project. I was born in 1974. The number has significance for me.
During that time, I also was a contributor to the kickstarter campaign of @WOVNS .
[WOVNS is the first of its kinds – a digital platform for weaving custom jacquard fabrics on demand. You can read more about it here.]
In February 2018, an image of this painting was submitted as a full-width repeat jacquard fabric.
This reappropriation of fine art and textiles illustrates how design and technology only imagined as a possiblity during Albers’ time, are a reality today. This is one way that 21st century collaborations between fine art and craft colleagues are happening.
Using painting to inform the source imagery in contemporary textiles, and by using a process of on demand manufacturing, accessibility to technology and traditional craft merge.
Diagrams and notations
Weaving notation is one of the most fascinating aspects of weaving to me. Albers notebooks with diagrams communicate a language only a weaver will know.
What did I learn about weaving from the ideals of Anni Albers?
I learned that the process of hand weaving is simultaneously meditative and laborious.
It is an art, and a science.
There is at once a million design possibilities, and many decisive constraints.
I learned the systems, methodology, and order of weaving.
I learned how closely weaving makes you pay attention and see.
I learned rhythm of it. And the color interactions and textures of the various yarns and materials.
I learned what it means to be an artist at the loom.