Five Alive is an interview series where we ask creative people we admire five questions about their practice. Today we are featuring Abigail Doan, an environmental fiber artist and writer, who divides her time between NYC and Europe. Her studio practice explores the sculptural language of handmade objects, slow craft methodologies, and cultural preservation issues.
Thank you, Abigail, for sharing your work with us!
What is your favorite art making tool?
A miniature tabletop loom that I use to create small ‘drawings’ with leftover or salvaged paper, threads, textile bits, and even dried vegetation or found flotsam.
I also really cherish a magnifying glass that belonged to my grandmother. I sometimes use it to zoom in on materials that I am documenting while traveling or working at home.
A good pair of scissors makes me very happy, particularly my Okubo garden scissors from Japan – perfect for bonsai trimming or simply as a paperweight on my desk.
I am definitely a tool lover, so much so that I started a project called, Toolshedding. Several of these objects were on view with my own sculptural forms in a solo exhibition at Weaving Hand gallery in Brooklyn last autumn.
What project(s) are you working on right now?
I recently initiated a project called, Walking Libraries, which involves (slow) movement research in combination with the documentation of site-specific materials in both rural and urban zones. This is an extension of an exploratory performance-based practice I started years ago for Conflux Festival as well as during solo walks in the deserts of the American Southwest and in the fields of my childhood farmland of the Hudson Valley. I will continue these travel explorations in rural communities in Bulgaria this summer as well as along coastal routes in Italy.
My intention is to build a library of plotted, psycho-geographic phenomena across communities and cultures with the mission of highlighting border-defying acts. This documentation with also serve as an archive for future art and design projects for my creative agency, Lost in Fiber.
I am also collaborating with several artist friends on projects that relate to modern day correspondence (in an attempt to make social media sharing more tactile), as well as an olfactory art project that explores tools for modern pioneering and monitoring pedestrian flow.
What music/band/artist are you listening to the most right now?
Well, I just arrived in Bulgaria for the summer, so I tend to listen to local bands here as well as regional folk music. I love to run in the morning with my headphones on – listening to Rachel Row as well as Milenita, two very cool Bulgarian women artists/musicians. Otherwise, I listen to my eight year old twin sons singing and practicing their instruments.
Where do you go for peace and quiet?
Definitely the mountains in Bulgaria, small village life in Italy, as well as some secret pockets within Central Park. I also have favorite rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I often retreat to when urban life is wearing thin. I grew up on a farm in New York State, so I am always trying to simulate this existence no matter where I roam. This is most likely why I have the art practice that I do, i.e. methods of outreach beyond the studio walls.
Is there a color or palette that you are drawn to?
The muted tones of the desert as well as hues created by botanical dyes. Several art friends are natural dyers, so I have learned a lot from them about what constitutes true color. Although I am not a dyer per se, I did grow up in a household where my mother often had a dye pot on the stove or we were foraging for roadside ‘weeds’ together.
Color is something that I typically view as being nature-based. That said, I have been exploring the inclusion of neon pops of color in my still life documentation, as I like the counterpoint and reference to the palette available with digital tools. Color can be bold, though, as demonstrated by the plant palette experiments of artist friend, Sasha Duerr.