Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Wood Scarf Finished, and the "S" Word

The first of the faux seersucker scarves has now been washed and dried. I wove 100 inches; after two runs through the washing machine, it's now 60 inches, and nicely gathered:

A close-up shot, taken in late afternoon sunshine to maximize the shadows and emphasize the texture, shows the result of the 2/2 broken twill in the dark brown wool stripes. It's a nice rough, bark-like texture.

And now for the "S" word: SAMPLE.

In a comment on the post about jacquard weaving, Peg expressed concern that the jacquard design based on a photograph is not as interesting as my 24-shaft weaving. Well, duh. The scarves I weave on the 24-shaft loom are thoroughly thought out, painstakingly designed, and executed as well as I can possible make them. They're finished, original pieces, each a one-of-a-kind.

The jacquard pieces I've shown on the blog are samples - just that. I use a readily available photo as a learning tool, to help me learn how to design imagery in cloth using weave structures that work well together. They are absolutely not intended to be anything but learning samples.

Here's my take on turning photos directly into jacquard tapestries: it's not my intention, and not in line with my design philosophy. Period.

I went to an exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose a year or so ago that was composed primarily of jacquard tapestries made directly from images of work by contemporary painters, and in one case, from Michelangelo's statue of David. Sorry, but I was very disappointed. I want jacquard tapestry to be original artwork, not a third-hand ripoff of a well known masterpiece.

I've been to Florence, and seen David in all his incredible glory from mere inches away. He's the most beautiful object in the known universe, IMHO. To shoot a photo, then turn the photo into a tapestry is like printing a Rembrandt oil painting on a jigsaw puzzle or a cereal box. It's several removes away from what makes the original so stunningly wonderful. It's a travesty; not art, just a cheap ripoff. Being well woven doesn't make it art, it's still a ripoff.

I was raised by a professional photographer, so I do know something about composing an image, whether in a camera viewfinder, or on canvas for painting with oils or watercolors, or for needlework or tapestry or any other textile technique. Composing an image is universal, not dependent upon the medium used to express that image.

Lots of visual artists use a digital camera as if it were a sketchbook. I expect to do that as a resource for jacquard tapestry. My goal is ultimately to create artwork that incorporates images that tell a story; my story. It is my hope that the story I want to tell will be as interesting, as original, and as well executed as my current work. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I reserve the right to publish pictures of samples occasionally on this blog. I'll try to label them as such, so nobody mistakes them for finished artwork :)


Taueret said...

the scarf is so beautiful. interesting discussion of the s word too.

Sunrise Lodge Fiber Studio said...

Fabulous scarf!!!

Peg in South Carolina said...

I am so glad I apparently pushed your buttons! You do not disappoint. Nor did I expect you to (grin!). I very much look forward to seeing jacquard weaving in your future.

Ruth said...

Bhakti Ziek published a wonderful piece in the CW Journal not too long ago, called "Rant." It had previously been included in the CW Jacquard Study Group's newsletter. In her "Rant," Bhakti made many of the same points that Sandra did: copying an existing work of art into your Jacquard-design program (Photoshop, Arah, or whatever) and then weaving it, doesn't make what you wove art. It makes it a copy, and for the most part probably not a very good copy either.

Drop by a PetSmart someday. Some of them have a kiosk where you can leave off a photo of your pet. The service will then weave you a throw or a pillow or whatever of your pet's photo. Is this art? Of course not.

Kudos to our new generation of Jacquard weavers who will take this medium and make new art with it.