#delvefabrication

Folk Art in the city: Quilts by Erin Wilson and Pedestals by Situ Studio

At our DELVE Networking Fabric(ation) + Art  event last Friday we met Erin Wilson. She is a working textile artist and quiltmaker based in Brooklyn, and we see the city in her intricately dyed and sewn blocks that create her compelling pieces. 

"Fabrication- the dyeing and sewing- is the core of my work, my most engaging and creatively challenging activity.  It is during the construction that I generate ideas and imagery, which means I often have to begin a project before I know where it’s going. This has taught me to trust in the process, and is why above all else, I consider myself a maker," says Erin. 

Her journal often documents her fabrication process, and it's exciting to see the colors, fabrics, processes, sewing machine and sunlit studio where her quilts get made.

Erin Wilson,  Shape Study #11 , 48" x 48", 2013 

Erin Wilson, Shape Study #11, 48" x 48", 2013 

“Big Quilt #1” (yellow), New work by Erin Wilson

“Big Quilt #1” (yellow), New work by Erin Wilson

“Big Quilt #2” (purple), New work by Erin Wilson

“Big Quilt #2” (purple), New work by Erin Wilson

We also met Basar Girit of Situ Studio. They recently did the exhibition design for Folk Couture, Fashion and Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. It's an exhibition worth seeing for the original work made by thirteen designers inspired by the museum's collection, as well as for the pedestals that were specifically crafted for each garment in the exhibition by Situ Studio. 

As they write on their blog:
"Inspired by the draping of a dress form, we chose to work with concrete impregnated fabric to create a series of custom pedestals specifically crafted for the garment or object it holds. The process of constructing the pedestals involved building a series of simple armatures from which the concrete canvas was suspended upside-down and saturated with water. Once cured, the result is a series of light-weight, structurally sufficient, modified-catenary forms that appear to float and billow upwards, grounded only by the weight of the objects they support."

Situ Studio, display system for “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art”, American Folk Art Museum, New York, from  Domus

Situ Studio, display system for “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art”, American Folk Art Museum, New York, from Domus

Photo by Kat Hennessey from  the exhibition's website .

Photo by Kat Hennessey from the exhibition's website.

Situ Studio, display system for “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art”, American Folk Art Museum, New York, from  Domus

Situ Studio, display system for “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art”, American Folk Art Museum, New York, from Domus


Erin Wilson is a working textile artist and quiltmaker based in Brooklyn, New York.  She has been sewing since she was very young.  Her quilts have been exhibited at venues including International Quilt Week Yokohama 2013, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, New England Quilt Museum, Quilt National at the Dairy Barn, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, and John Michael Kohler Arts Center.  Erin was on the fabrication team for Noah’s Ark Gallery at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, for which she produced numerous textile components of life-sized animal puppets and sculptures under the direction of puppeteer Christopher M. Green. A former dancer, Erin received her BFA from The Julliard School in 1998 and danced professionally for 9 years. 

Situ Studio is a creative practice that engages in experimental work in a variety of media.  A commitment to both material investigation as well as research and writing allows for the studio to develop flexible and multifaceted strategies to approach spatial problems.  This dual emphasis is reflected in its workspace which combines both a design studio and a digitally equipped workshop.  In addition to its design practice, Situ Studio maintains a parallel operation as a digital fabrication and consulting firm.
The five founding partners graduated from the Cooper Union School of Architecture in 2005.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview–Peg Bauer, archivist at the Design Library

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Networking Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces. It's a chance to learn from others, meet new people and see where our worlds overlap. We're finishing out our month of devoting all of our blog posts to the theme fabric(ation) (#delvefabrication).

The Design Library

The Design Library

This week we are very happy to have had the chance to speak with Peg Bauer, an archivist at the Design Library, located in the Hudson Valley. From the Design Library's website:

"The Design Library's business is the sale and licensing of antique, vintage, modern and contemporary textile designs for inspiration to the fashion, home furnishings, textile, wall covering, graphic arts, and paper product industries. The Design Library has the world's largest and best organized collections of documentary fabrics, original paintings, wallpapers, embroideries and yarn dyes, numbering over seven million designs. The collections date from the 1750s to the late 20th century and are sorted into over 900 categories for easy access."

The Design Library is accessible by appointment only to professional designers.

Peg Bauer, archivist at The Design Library

Peg Bauer, archivist at The Design Library

Let's have Peg introduce herself!

Hello, my name is Peg. Some might say that I have an unhealthy obsession with paper and textiles. I absolutely love engaging in creative projects and always seem to be scheming my next idea. My inspiration is everywhere! Time is my biggest enemy, as I wish I could create beautiful things all day long. When not working my regular job as an archivist of antique textiles, I can be found dabbling in whatever craft tickles my proverbial fancy. I especially enjoy sewing and making one-of-a-kind greeting cards, but really, any creative venture will do!

I live in an old house in Kingston, NY with my charming and photographically talented fiancé. I enjoy farmer's markets, browsing antique stores, petting goats, eating tacos and organizing everything in sight.

Can you describe your path in the creative industry- from where and when you began, until now?

It's funny to think about it now, but I simply answered a help wanted ad. I had been working in litigation research and feeling really uninspired. While I enjoyed the challenges of the job, the nationwide travel and meeting new people, my spirit was being crushed by gruesome lawsuit details and I knew I needed to do something different. At exactly the right moment, I came across a job opportunity for the head archivist at The Design Library. It was a far leap from what I was doing at the time, but was such an intriguing job. I am probably the most organized person I know, so when the opportunity to harness that energy and passion for order in an interesting environment was in front of me, I just about passed out. I never really gave much thought to surface design and certainly didn't know that a place like The Design Library even existed before I started working here. Although I consider myself a creative person, I do not have any formal art education. When I accepted the position, I was tasked with overseeing the organization and upkeep of an archive of over 7 million designs that fall into over 900 categories. Thus began my art education.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

My days are spent in the archive and I pretty much operate in a constant state of "tidying up" as I move from one place to another and from task to task. In a way, it's no different than keeping my house organized. Because I am (almost annoyingly) neat, this is quite enjoyable for me. The main responsibilities that I have here involve preparing and categorizing new designs, maintaining order in the Library's vast collections and supervising interns. Beyond that, it depends on the day. If we've just landed a new collection, I will unpack it, assess the condition of it, determine what categories the designs fall under, and finally decide where they will be displayed in the archive. The beauty of our archive is that everything is easily accessible. If a client is looking for something very specific, for example, an 18th century block-printed flower motif or an Art Deco geometric border, we can point them right to a shelf or several areas that will have a selection of designs that we've categorized as similar. 

When preparing new collections, I assess how the designs will be best preserved and presented. We often get collections that have been locked away somewhere for a very long time and are often wrinkled, ripped or folded. My team and I will reinforce the designs, iron fabrics if necessary and make them look as good as possible while preserving it's integrity. I often say that working here is like being at a museum where you can touch everything. It is so gratifying to see so many great examples of art right in front of you. Whether it's an actual painted work, a printed or woven fabric, a paper impression or even a wallpaper - it's history in your hands. My boss once said to me that he considers us the stewards of these pieces of history that were created mostly by now anonymous artists. It is truly a privilege! 

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

It's always exciting to get new collections. Some take a lot more planning and hands-on time than others and that can be exciting to know that you are going to be working on it for a few weeks. What I really enjoy though is the setting up and strategizing of our space. We renovated and expanded the archive a few years ago, and I helped in the planning process and execution of the transition. We had to decide where all the shelving was going to go, where to hang lights, what to hang on the walls - pretty much everything, including building the shelves and loading them back up with millions of designs. It was fairly grueling at the time, but I take immense satisfaction in looking around now and knowing that I helped make this place beautiful and functional. The Design Library has a small archive in London that recently moved and expanded it's size. I just had the amazing opportunity to travel and work in London to help with that process. While it was on a much smaller scale, it was just as fun and rewarding. If you need any shelving built, I'm your lady!

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What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

That everything will be there tomorrow. My personality and work ethic often push me to want to complete tasks in their entirety and not stop until they are done. The beauty of working with designs is that they can wait. In fact, I've often come up with better ideas and strategies on how to handle a particular collection by walking away from it for a while and doing something else. I also used to be pretty intolerant of messes. Because we have the good fortune at the Design Library of being visited by clients often while also obtaining new collections to sort out, it is sometimes hard to keep all the fires burning at once. I often have to move back and forth from project to project. My very rigid ways of approaching tasks have become more relaxed and personally, I feel like I have developed newer and more effective work habits.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I really have to look no further than the view from my desk to be inspired. Admittedly, because I am here every day, the designs tend to be my background and not always at the forefront. My go to for inspiration is almost always the outdoors. When I moved to the Hudson Valley from Long Island I really fell in love with nature quite hard. Going for hikes and meandering in the woods always brings me some form of wonder. I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful area. Whether it's noticing early budding flowers and greenery in the spring or bold and bright leaves changing in the autumn, I am hands-down always impressed by nature. I am particularly drawn to line drawings of flowers, leaves and other nature-based imagery like birds and botanicals. 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

NEW DELVE Fabric(ation) & Toolkit + Post-Networking to dos

Last Friday evening, many people braved the bitter cold to join us at the cozy Textile Arts Center's Manhattan workshop for DELVE Networking, Fabric(ation) + Art. It was a seriously inspiring group of artists, graphic designers, architects, fashion designers, students, Textile Arts Center fans, interior designers, entrepreneurs and more. Fiyel Levent and Annie Coggan gave inspired talks about their work and process, each diving into what the idea of fabrication means to them.

We had the chance to announce our brand new Toolkit for Artists and Creatives that is part of the DELVE suite of services, which also includes events and bespoke workshops. If you are an artist or creative looking to grow your community or build your practical professional skills to enhance your practice, check out our new site and take action on projects that are important to you.

Plus, in this post we also wanted to share some tips for what to do after these networking events to keep building your community.

Scroll down and keep on reading to learn more....

Last Friday evening was a wonderful and productive event because:

  • We had the opportunity to hear about and be inspired by the processes of two talented architects/designers/artists who redesign, beautify and transform the way we use and think about everyday objects and the spaces we inhabit.
  • The Textile Arts Center, an organization that symbolizes experimentation and learning based on fabric and textiles, is a great space to think and talk about fabrication.
  • Meeting new talented people from all around the city (and world) really opened our eyes to so many more inspiring projects that are going on.

Hearing Fiyel Levent talk about her process was really enlightening, and it was amazing to hear how her travels around the world have influenced her designs for furniture, objects and paper goods. Experimenting with different materials is very important to her work. She took us down the fascinating path of how she actually makes her intricate, beautiful objects. She left us with an important thought: from designing her furniture and objects to her paper goods, fabricating locally has become incredibly important to her as she moves away from creating every single one of her pieces on her own. 

Courtesy Fiyel Levent  These intricate shavings were a by product from her screens on the right, an unexpected surprise. 

Courtesy Fiyel Levent

These intricate shavings were a by product from her screens on the right, an unexpected surprise. 

screen.png
Courtesy Fiyel Levent  The blue foam cylinders, collected from art supply stores all over NYC and then some, became the molds for this gorgeous wine rack for a private client.

Courtesy Fiyel Levent

The blue foam cylinders, collected from art supply stores all over NYC and then some, became the molds for this gorgeous wine rack for a private client.

wine.png

Annie Coggan's work explores, in her words, "rooms, objects and stories: three preoccupations and their subsequent consequences." First, Annie took us on a tour of incredible rooms that she has designed, and the objects (especially chairs) that she remakes for certain persons from history. Each space, object and drawing is infused with deep historical meaning, usually based on a specific individual chosen and interpreted by Annie. As a mother, teacher, instructor, designer and artist, her fabrication methods thrive on self-imposed rules, whether all materials must be salvaged, or she works on projects in pieces through embroidery in the evenings so she can always be producing.

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Thanks to everyone who attended and participated and we hope to see you again soon!

LINKS
Annie Coggan/Chairs and Buildings
Fiyel Levent Atelier
Fiyel Levent Paper Goods
Textile Arts Center

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If you collected any business cards or made new friends last Friday at our event, here are some suggestions to schedule into your calendar this week:

Follow up and say hello! Just send an email and check out the other person's website. Simple. Do it before you forget. Add each other to your mailing lists.
Connect on social media. This is a great way to stay in touch. It seems we all use Facebook these days to share art events and Twitter is an easy way to stay in the know. 
Comment and interact with the event organizers. We have a blog and hope you'll comment on pieces that interest you and leave your website and introduce yourselves. Join our community!
Schedule a studio visit. We are huge fans of studio visits with new friends of colleagues. So if you've hit it off with someone, there's never a better time to get some feedback on your work, or vice versa. We all live here to create and share what we do.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Machine vs handmade at Home- Andrea's apartment

After our DELVE event I have been paying so much more attention to where and how things are made. Here are some peeks into my world. -Andrea

So, this is fabricated by nature. But I can't get over this fern and its intricate detail. 

So, this is fabricated by nature. But I can't get over this fern and its intricate detail. 

I love this piece by  Sara . It's a detail from a larger painting. She hand-embroidered it. 

I love this piece by Sara. It's a detail from a larger painting. She hand-embroidered it. 

This is a cool pillow I got on etsy by  Linthound.

This is a cool pillow I got on etsy by Linthound.

I have many things from Ukraine, This is a hand carved box that I bought in the Carpathian Mountains. 

I have many things from Ukraine, This is a hand carved box that I bought in the Carpathian Mountains. 

This, too, is a hand embroidered towel made in Ukraine.

This, too, is a hand embroidered towel made in Ukraine.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Olfactory fabrication + art

In preparation for this Friday's DELVE Networking event Fabric(ation) + Art, we have been thinking about what things surround us everyday that receive a lot of thought, consideration and talent to come together – to be fabricated.  

Everyday we walk through the midst of a creative process, as our studio is down the hall from the talented scent creators, D.S. & Durga. We find great pleasure in the subtle, lovely fragrances that drift through the halls, some stronger than others. Recently we stopped at Bird in Brooklyn to go on a smelling spree of their line, and each of us was mentally transported to awesome, unique, imaginary lands. 

  D.S. & Durga

 D.S. & Durga

"Fabrication is so important to our work.  Obviously in that we create, i.e. fabricate, all of our scents in house.  But even more so in fabrication meaning 'made-up story.' Fragrance uses all sorts of trickery to conjure up stories in the imagination and mind of the sniffer," says D.S.

From their site: "D.S. & Durga make perfume and cologne in small batches using premium-sourced raw materials. All scents are created exclusively in-house...Though all scent is unisex in nature, D.S. & Durga honor the classical break-down of masculines & feminines...Durga had an idea: she could distill her designs into the architecture of fragrances (and the packages they live in) and D.S. could write songs in scent."

So, who else fabricates scents that bring us new mental places, or back to recalling old ones, especially in an art context?

Installation view of The Art of the Scent exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. (image: Brad Farwell) From this  Smithsonian post . 

Installation view of The Art of the Scent exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York. (image: Brad Farwell) From this Smithsonian post

The Museum of Art and Design in New York has an olfactory department that is now two years old. Quoted from this New York Times article,  “The fundamental goal of the department is placing scent as an artistic medium alongside painting, sculpture and music,” as stated by its curator Chandler Burr. Last year in The Art of the Scent (1889-2012), twelve scents were exhibited and in addition to activating our sense of smell, we loved the challenge to exhibit work that one cannot see



Sissel Tolaas, photograph from  Huffington Post

Sissel Tolaas, photograph from Huffington Post

Can you imagine the capability to create the smell of things that don't physically exist in the world, such as fear or happiness?

"In a career spanning twenty-five years, Sissel Tolaas has raised these and many more questions, and has collected over 7000 different smells which she houses in her studio lab in Berlin," writes Nish Gera from this insightful interview with Tolaas.

EXPLORING THE BLIND GARDEN OF ANTWERP CITY (SPICES) © Peter De Cupere, from  this site

EXPLORING THE BLIND GARDEN OF ANTWERP CITY (SPICES) © Peter De Cupere, from this site

Then we stumbled upon the Blind Smell Stick project by Belgian olfactory artist Peter De Cupere, who devised a stick equipped with a "little bulb on top of [it that] has holes in it and it detects the smells. With the use of a few mini ventilators, heating, and filters, the scents reach your nose through a special tube. You can wear dark sunglasses and really focus on the smells or you can also open the dark glasses and take a look at what you're smelling." 


This article really informs us that smell, or the implication of it, and art have always been combined to create powerful conceptual experiences as well. Some examples of that are the smell of blood during Judy Chicago’s Menstruation Bathroom piece form 1972, and Hilda Kozari’s Air-Urban Olfactory Installation (2003) where the artist created three bubbles that invited her audience to experience the olfactory conditions based on her memories of three cities: Paris, Helsinki and Bucharest. Kozari writes about her work: "The accurate definition of the urban landscapes is given by the sense of smell, which brings to mind different memories. The odor of a city is not just about the sea, wind, parks, buildings and garbage, but also about people, the living environment, and its emotional, cultural and industrial life connected to memory. As in a personal perfume, the smell of the city depends strongly on the balance of odors."

As artists, we are so aware of conditions that surround our city space, smell included. In New York City, those smells generally err on the uncomfortable side, which makes interaction with others and recognition of how scent affects our perception of things so much more important.

 


© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Slow design: sustainable, adaptable and beautiful

Where do our clothes and materials come from? We have been thinking a lot about that as we have been exploring the idea of fabrication this month leading up to our DELVE Networking event Fabric(ation) + Art at the Textile Arts Center in Manhattan. Luckily, our friend, Fay Koplovitz, a costume designer and all-around cool lady, introduced us to the slow-design movement recently with her incredible weaving piece below. It has shed some light on some zen art making practices as well as some companies that believe in sustainability and our future without sacrificing design and beauty.

"This piece was made on a primitive hand weaving loom that I made from an existing wooden frame and incorporates several different types of yarn, as well as twine and shredded silk fabric. This piece is inspired by the slow design movement, and African art and textiles, " says Fay.

Fay Koplovitz's weaving, (untitled) measures 15”wide x 22”high   

Fay Koplovitz's weaving, (untitled) measures 15”wide x 22”high
 

detail

detail

Fay explained the idea of slow design to us really well: 

"As I understand it, slow design is a way of designing that embodies sustainable, holistic, non-toxic, and adaptable qualities. For example, using whatever materials you already have or found locally,  and not consuming or creating a carbon footprint. I think it branches from the same idea as slow food–eat local, all natural/unprocessed. 

This weaving cost me $0 to make because I already had all the materials to make it. Part of the creative process, for me, is to make something out of things that would otherwise go to waste (scraps of fabric, yarn, an old picture frame). 

Using things that you have also effects the final result of the art. Sometimes there are aesthetic compromises that must be made in order to best utilize the materials at hand. I think these compromises sometimes create flaws, but I think the flaws add a lot of visual interest.

The frame loom is also a very primitive way to weave, which takes a long time, requires 0 electricity, and 0 mechanisms–so taking the word  'slow' quite literally."

She sparked our interest and we found ourselves going down rabbit holes of amazing slow design work out there that left us inspired and happy. So, we shall leave you with two gorgeous capes and let you explore on your own!

Alabama Chanin  has some gorgeous clothing and accessories for sale, plus DIY kits and an amazing  blog . All of their products are USA made from organic materials and incorporate unique traditions and crafting techniques. 

Alabama Chanin has some gorgeous clothing and accessories for sale, plus DIY kits and an amazing blog. All of their products are USA made from organic materials and incorporate unique traditions and crafting techniques. 

Titania   Ainglis ' elegant work is minimal and beautiful. "Each garment is sewn in a small factory in New York from high-quality, low-impact fabrics including Japanese organic cotton, French vegetable-tanned leather, and dead stock wool from the local garment industry."

Titania Ainglis' elegant work is minimal and beautiful. "Each garment is sewn in a small factory in New York from high-quality, low-impact fabrics including Japanese organic cotton, French vegetable-tanned leather, and dead stock wool from the local garment industry."

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Friday Links- January 17

Annie Coggan tells us about a major source of inspiration, Dorothea Tanning, in this article.

Fiyel Levent talks about her travels during her life and how they have been crucial to her creativity.

Artists- can a jump on this year at Cue Art Foundation on 1/22/14 with Jackie Battenfield's planning workshop. It's only $10. Can't beat it.

Constellation 617 has some great interviews with Creative People.

From this Hyperallergic article: "The University of California’s storied academic imprint is making freely available online 700 titles published between 1984 and 2004, Open Culture has reported. The books encompass a broad range of topics, with a healthy dose of critical and historical writings on the arts."

On that topic, reading is totally good for you.

Loving these nighttime photographs of the Gowanus by Miska Draskoczy.

Our DELVE Networking event is next week at Textile Arts Center on 1/24 exploring all things fabrication!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

The Textile Arts Center's Artists-in-Residence

We are beyond excited to have our DELVE Networking event exploring Fabric(ation) + Art at the Textile Arts Center next Friday, January 24th. They do such amazing things for artists and we wanted to highlight their Artist in Residency Program and share some work by recent residents.

photo courtesy of LeBrie Rich via the Textile Arts Center  blog

photo courtesy of LeBrie Rich via the Textile Arts Center blog

"LeBrie Rich is a Portland, OR, based fiber artist who makes the softest sculptures and objects, out of her studio PenFelt, using mainly wooly fibers and felting. Besides making the most amazing art”The Duchess of Felt” has also been teaching workshops all over the US and internationally and collaborating with stores and brands like Nike for custom made windows displays." Read more here

Lamps by  Kelly Valletta on the  Textile Arts Center Blog

Lamps by  Kelly Valletta on the Textile Arts Center Blog

We are big fans of utilitarian art, and these hanging hand-knotted lamps by Kelly Valletta are pretty amazing. 

Photo from the Textile Arts Center blog featuring Eleanor Anderson

Photo from the Textile Arts Center blog featuring Eleanor Anderson

We love making hand made cards around the Kind Aesthetic studio, so we especially love the work of Eleanor Anderson, whose hands you see above. You can buy her work in the TAC shop, as well. What an elegant way to catch up with some old friends. 

Photo from the Textile Arts Center blog featuring Lucia Cuba

Photo from the Textile Arts Center blog
featuring Lucia Cuba

Artist made clothes are simply the best. Lucia Cuba's work is really intriguing to us and we like hearing a bit about her process on their blog.  Her activist design initiative, Proyecto Gamarra is really something to dig into. 

Join us next Friday to explore more of what the Textile Arts Center has to offer! Get tickets to DELVE here

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Guest Post–Fiyel Levent's Inspiration: Travel

We are excited that our Delve Fabrication + Art speakers, Annie Coggan and Fiyel Levent, have agreed to write guest blog posts for us this month!  Today we have Fiyel Levent, who launched her own studio, The Atelier, exhibiting work at various galleries that drew inspiration from her interest in Central Asian and Islamic Architecture. In 2013, Fiyel Levent Paper Goods began as an extension of The Atelier, where her experimentation and love affair with paper was hugely incorporated into her lighting designs, and so the move to develop a stationery line was a natural one.

Some photos from Fiyel's travels

Some photos from Fiyel's travels

The significance of traveling

I grew up traveling very often. My mother worked for an airline her entire life, and since her side of the family lived in Finland, we would visit them regularly, numerous times a year. I grew very close with my grandparents and cousins, and I now know that it was an enormous gift, this experience of travel, ingrained in me from such a young age. Throughout the years I have continued to travel, albeit less frequently particularly now that we have a child, but the sense of exploration and adventure never leaves me. Even my relationship with my husband has been deeply rooted in our love for discovering other worlds. Traveling is an integral part of the work that I create, but more importantly, who I am as an individual.

Over the years, the kind of traveling I’ve become increasingly interested in has taken on more extreme characteristics. It is not really a leisurely pursuit I am after, but rather an adventure that activates my senses and forces me to think.

Drawing inspired by patterns seen while traveling

Drawing inspired by patterns seen while traveling

It began some years ago while I was still in college, working on a research and design project involving the significance of water and the fountain infrastructures of Istanbul: the political, the economical, religious and cultural dimensions the element of water added to the city. During that semester, I was able to organize a solo trip, to document and research a set of maps I found there, the first time I had ever traveled with a sense of expedition. A few years after that, I received a grant that allowed me to fly to Andalucía in southern Spain; I sought to understand the use of geometric ornament throughout Moorish architecture as a symbol of their humanity. Their society, during certain periods, was marked by great tolerance for various faiths and peoples; far from being isolationists, foreign commerce and immigration were encouraged. My journey there revealed a great deal about this society, the most fascinating element being this dialogue existing between societies, which was made evident through the architecture.

It was really the next opportunity that introduced another level of intensity. Having applied and received a grant from The Center for Architecture in New York, I was able to travel the Northern Silk Road. I had dreamed of tracing this ancient route that carried so many ghosts, perhaps because I had envisioned my ancestors also traversing along it, (though I am a New York City girl, born and raised in Queens, my lineage is Tatar and stems back to Tatarstan in Central Asia) and so the idea of this journey, for me, carried with it a mythic dimension.

In the fall of 2011, I embarked on a voyage to trace this route; the trip was to begin in Uzbekistan and end in Xian, in central China. The purpose of the trip was to explore the relationships between different peoples over time, continuously reflected in their built constructions. These relationships are particularly evident in Central Asia, a vast, restless region where for centuries cultural exchange was the norm. The cities and towns along the Silk Routes, stretching from Asia Minor to the East China Sea, are layered with a rich body of architectural history that reflects this dialogue between various cultures. My aim was to document the architecture through a series of photographs: a visual essay.

Brass Rings

Brass Rings

Hikari Lights

Hikari Lights

Shutters

Shutters

I traveled for a little over two months and visited the most crucial and amazing sites that had been on my list from the beginning. In the end, it wasn’t enough time and the trip took on many other layers as well. I hadn’t taken into account the distances and the traveling snags I would encounter along the way. Compared to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, China was immense and it took days to travel by land from one point to another. Organization was complicated, communication often puzzling and laborious.

Our experiences included taking a ten hour taxi ride through the mountains in Kyrgyzstan, with four people crammed into the backseat of an old jalopy, one of them being the most well behaved five year old boy I have ever met. We haggled with taxi drivers, slept on overnight buses, ate strange foods, got cross examined by locals and had brief encounters with strangers who offered to share their homes with us. Some sites, like the Maijishan Grottoes, took days to reach using different modes of transportation, from trains between cities, transferring to buses, then to local buses, followed by a climb along a narrow path through the mountains. Many of these sites were isolated, free from tourists, and we wandered alone along the mountainous caves and Buddhist statues that were built centuries before. It felt strange and liberating to encounter a dilapidated old mausoleum, for example, or a collection of Balbals – prehistoric stone grave markers - in the middle of an empty field, sitting modestly by themselves when one comes from a culture that places such strong emphasis on historic preservation. 

Our entire trip was marked by such novel incidents. The destinations, my mapped out architectural sites, were magical experiences and have informed my design work both directly and indirectly; the voyage itself, as a whole, fundamentally changed who I am. My little world here in New York, a delightfully comfortable domain in which I live and work, was whisked away and I was standing face to face with more primal, humanistic affairs. When I travel now for work purposes, exploring architectural wonders or various other cultural artifacts, of course I look forward to being inspired. But it is very much the voyage I anticipate most, nearly a meditative act, which I know will reawaken my sensitivity towards various human conditions and allow me to view life from a much broader context.

—Fiyel Levent

Laser cut cards

Laser cut cards

Fiyel Levent Paper Goods

Fiyel Levent Paper Goods

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Guest Post–Annie Coggan's Inspiration: Dorothea Tanning

We are excited that our Delve Fabrication + Art speakers, Annie Coggan and Fiyel Levent, have agreed to write guest blog posts for us this month! First up, we have Annie Coggan, who runs the fantastic blog, Chairs and Buildings, as well as being an educator, artist/designer and entrepreneur based in Brooklyn, NY. 

Canapé en temps de pluie (Rainy-Day Canapé)  , 1970 Tweed, upholstered wood sofa, wool, Ping-Pong balls, and cardboard, 32 1/4 x 68 1/2 x 43 1/4 in. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Anonymous gift.

Canapé en temps de pluie (Rainy-Day Canapé), 1970
Tweed, upholstered wood sofa, wool, Ping-Pong balls, and cardboard, 32 1/4 x 68 1/2 x 43 1/4 in.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. Anonymous gift.

This terribly non-mainstream piece was, more than anything, a challenge to me, a bet that I made with myself, and only me, that I would give real physical life to a bunch of tweeds and stuffing. Now, when you look at its triumphant? paroxysmic? despairing? physicality you are not quite sure that materials are only tools, that the inert is the inert, that life is something else. But one thing you know: that like you and me and everyone else, this Rainy-Day Canapé will not live for centuries. But how could we care?

-Dorothea Tanning on Canapé en temps de pluie

 With this quote by Dorothea Tanning regarding one of a series of fabric sculptures that resulted in the installation Hotel de Pivot, I realized that working with fabric for anyone creates a tremendous risk or challenge.  For Tanning the five year period of making work that culminated in Hotel de Pivot was a time as an outsider. She was working with materials that she “wasn’t supposed to” as an established painter, and she was working on pieces that were not “marketable” at all. But she was establishing a world with wools and tweeds, and a formal language that had not been previously worked out by anyone on a canvas. Thus, the three dimensional world of Hotel du Pivot becomes more than an image; it’s a pinnacle point in Tanning’s artistic development.

Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (Poppy Hotel, Room 202)  , 1970-73 Fabric, wool, synthetic fur, cardboard, and Ping-Pong balls, 133 7/8 x 122 1/8 x 185 in. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (Poppy Hotel, Room 202), 1970-73
Fabric, wool, synthetic fur, cardboard, and Ping-Pong balls, 133 7/8 x 122 1/8 x 185 in.
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

The idea that the fabric was a challenge is logical yet subversive. At first glance, Tanning comes to fabric owning a sewing machine which she had had and carried about with her a since she was a young woman. But the scale of work that she engages with changes the norm of women working in fabric. Most pieces in this series are furniture sized.  Fabric at this scale has no structural integrity. A formal freedom can easily be imagined, but the actual execution of these forms is the challenge. Tanning succumbs to the structural lethargy of fabric; her tables are tragic and bodies are languid. In the end they need the room to stabilize their emotions, both structurally and narratively. The method of upholstering and stuffing of forms leads Tanning to the ultimate chance operation. It’s not so much the forms that are made in the room but the space around the forms that result in a surrealist condition. Why are forms in the wall blossoming out of the sofa, becoming the fireplace? This is a “triumph,” the manifestation of a dream space.

Table Tragique (Tragic Table) from Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202,   1970-73 Wood, fabric, and wool, 43 3/8 x 48 1/8 x 33 1/2 in. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Table Tragique (Tragic Table) from Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202, 1970-73
Wood, fabric, and wool, 43 3/8 x 48 1/8 x 33 1/2 in.
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Tanning used two mediums to produce the elements in Hotel De Pivot: she embraced the thick wool and tweed that was locally manufactured in the French countryside; and she gathered found objects that resided within her immediate surrounds. The tweed and wool act as a base or canvas for the work and describe the formal qualities. The found lace, ceramic, and sewing pins reinforce her poetic titles and narrative. One can read the fabric as the structure of the poem and the found objects as the filigree.

Emma  , 1970 Fabric, wool, and lace, 11 11/16 x 25 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (body: 11 1/4 x 22 x 12 1/2 in.) The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, acquired through the generosity of the William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee, 2006.27

Emma, 1970
Fabric, wool, and lace, 11 11/16 x 25 3/8 x 21 5/8 in. (body: 11 1/4 x 22 x 12 1/2 in.)
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, acquired through the generosity of the William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee, 2006.27

Finally, I like to think of Tanning as working much as any wife, neighbor, or citizen of the world works; not the stereotypical image of the artist at work. Tanning’s marriage to Max Ernst meant that she was his help mate. Her time to work was after Ernst’s needs were satisfied. So this five year burst of fabric manipulation is intriguing in relation to her life time of work. Before this period she painted, and after this she devoted herself to writing. Tanning the polymath, and her journey as a polymath, is an exciting image, and the aforementioned structure of the fabric work establishes the sculptural work as a bridge to her final career as a poet. The framework of Tanning’s painting always involved a three dimensional space, so her need to actually build that condition to resolve the stories in her imagination is obvious. Imagining Tanning somewhere in a studio wrestling with Tweed and Wool to build the images in her head is truly inspiring.

—Annie Coggan

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

#delvefabrication on Pinterest

All month we're collecting images on our Pinterest board that relate to the idea of "fabric(ation)" for our January 24th Delve Event. Here are some of our favorites so far. Be sure to follow us there, if you haven't already!

"The space I'm interested in is not only a physical one, but an intangible, metaphorical, and psychological one"-Do Ho Suh (Staircase III @ Tate Modern)

"The space I'm interested in is not only a physical one, but an intangible, metaphorical, and psychological one"-Do Ho Suh (Staircase III @ Tate Modern)

Melissa Zexter,  Girl in Bath , Gelatin Silver Print, Thread 20" x 24"

Melissa Zexter, Girl in Bath, Gelatin Silver Print, Thread 20" x 24"

The Design-Library (photo by Mark Mahaney for the WSJ)

The Design-Library (photo by Mark Mahaney for the WSJ)

Sarah Sze installation view at The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA

Sarah Sze installation view at The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA

Sculptural Vessel by  Doug Johnston

Sculptural Vessel by Doug Johnston

Michael van der Ham

Michael van der Ham

Tara Donovan,  Untitled , 2008. styrofoam cups and glue, installation dimensions variable.

Tara Donovan, Untitled, 2008. styrofoam cups and glue, installation dimensions variable.

Mana Morimoto

Mana Morimoto

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

This week's links–January 11

We're excited to have our curatorial side project, Made to Move, featured on the Chairs and Buildings blog today!

Incredible photo essay by Christopher Payne in The New York Times  Magazine about the last remaining textile mills in the U.S.

In case you haven't seen it yet, this talk by Tina Roth Eisenberg is really inspiring--all about the importance and power of labor of love projects.

And for those of you interested in everything textile, this list of resources is really great.

And lastly, more inspiring photography, courtesy of The New York Times. Tanya Habjouqa, a Jordanian-born photographer, looks for subtler strategies to explore today’s Palestinian experience.

"She focused on pleasure instead of suffering. She focused on humor, too, which she said Palestinians use to face the absurdities of everyday life in the Israeli-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza.

“I am in awe of the Palestinians for not only surviving but actually enjoying their lives in the face of the difficulties of their daily life and their political situation,” said Ms. Habjouqa, who was raised mostly in Texas."

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

The hand versus the machine

We've been thinking about fabrication a lot this month because it's the topic of our Delve Event on January 24th. We decided to take a look around our own homes and see how we integrate the handmade versus the machine made in our household goods. Below are some examples from my (Sara's) apartment.

Machine printed curtain pattern

Machine printed curtain pattern

Handmade woven rag rug.  This was made by a North Carolina man in his 80s. He sits on his porch weaving rag rugs and sells them at the local farmers market.

Handmade woven rag rug.  This was made by a North Carolina man in his 80s. He sits on his porch weaving rag rugs and sells them at the local farmers market.

Machine made chair upholstery and handmade pillow. The chair was from my grandparents' house and I like to imagine my grandmother picking out the fabric to match the things in her living room, and I made the pillow from an old piece of fabric I found where I really liked the botanical print.

Machine made chair upholstery and handmade pillow. The chair was from my grandparents' house and I like to imagine my grandmother picking out the fabric to match the things in her living room, and I made the pillow from an old piece of fabric I found where I really liked the botanical print.

machine made duvet cover and handmade silkscreened pillow by  AU RETOUR , a company started by a grad school friend

machine made duvet cover and handmade silkscreened pillow by AU RETOUR, a company started by a grad school friend

machine embroidered curtain

machine embroidered curtain

This is a card that my aunt made–she does calligraphy... And the pot is the one piece I was excited about having made in my college ceramics class

This is a card that my aunt made–she does calligraphy... And the pot is the one piece I was excited about having made in my college ceramics class

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.