Date of this Version
From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).
Since the early 1970s I have been interested in the construction of imagery in textiles and how the imagery that is an essential part of the structure can be altered through painting, dyeing, and finishing processes. My early pieces used a simple distortion of the vertical horizontal threads to create undulating parallel lines that defined what I called the "fabric landscape", a piece of fabric laid over a relief surface. In 1974-5 I applied photographs directly to the surface of my woven structures, sensitizing the cotton cords with photosensitive chemicals and processing the whole weaving as one would a photograph. There is a similarity between the way a photographic image is made of particles or dots and the way a woven image can be built up of particles created by the intersection of the warp and weft. The breakdown of the image caused by the interaction of the two techniques is what I found fascinating in these pieces. The color in a printed image or in a pointillist painting is also built of particles much like color in a woven fabric.
I next wove a series of "canvases" of white rayon with a pattern image in the structure. I began to work on a loom equipped with a Dobby mechanism. I painted individual threads of each "canvas" with pigments and dyes to alter the visual appearance of the woven pattern and to create a sense of layering.
While I was creating this series of "canvases" I was given a small textile portrait of Joseph-Marie Jacquard -- it was a Jacquard of Jacquard. I have always been curious about the use ofa Jacquard to create imagery in woven textiles and thought that the Jacquard could be used in creating my contemporary work. With an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Special Projects Grant in 1979, I travelled to Europe to look at Jacquard textile sample books in the Victoria & Albert Museum and in Lyon, France. I brought an original antique Jacquard from Lyon to my California studio. I liked the idea of going back to the time when technology and the hand process were more closely allied and of finding out how I could use this "old" technology in a new way. I have always felt that my experimentation with the Jacquard was the research part of my art practice while I continued to make my contemporary work combining hand processes of dyeing, painting, and weaving with the use of the computerized dobby.