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  • Writer's pictureaomikikuchi

SUBTLE SPEAKS Final Exhibition of the Textile Arts Center's 11th Cycle of Artists in Residence

September 19-28, 2020 at Textile Arts Center, 505 Carroll Street, Brooklyn,NY

11am-7pm, by appointment

Title: Transition Year: 2020

Medium: Hemp yarn, Silk thread, Goose down, Machine knitting, Lace making

Dimension: Life size of woman’s kimono/ 82”long x 86” wide (208cm x 218cm)

This work is based on the theme of ”Construction, destruction, and reconstruction” that I am currently working on. I think that the activities of the world are repeating these three cycles. Those produced in this world grow or age and break or die. Life does not rebuild itself, but takes the form of creating a new life. The substances that made up the star in the universe that has reached the end of its life will make up a new star in the new place. As the Buddha advocates, the world is impermanent and insubstantial, but I think that the activities will continue infinitely while changing their modes.

The reason for making this work was that I experienced a machine knitting workshop at the Textile Arts Center. After having been involved in dyeing kimono for a long time, I decided to try knitting kimono. Not only silk but also linen and cotton are used as materials for kimono, however, as for techniques, exclusively, a weaving technique has been used. Nowadays some designers propose kimonos using jersey materials and there was an exhibition in 2019 titled Off the Wall at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where kimono-themed pieces made of knit were exhibited.

When thinking about what a kimono is, I thought it would make sense to use an unconventional technique.

In kimono dyeing, needlework is sometimes applied to the finish using a technique called Japanese embroidery, but other than that, I have never thought of making holes in a piece of cloth or doing needlework. I feel the rigidity of the kimono fabric, which does not allow intervention other than dyeing. However, the knitted kimonos I made did not retain their knitted shape and curl up due to the nature of knits, or it grew steadily due to gravity. So I made a hole and made a spider web in the hole. And I filled the whole kimono with spider webs of various sizes. In those spider webs, goose-down round balls are studded with the image of the spider's extract and prey that immobilize the prey. I gave this work the title Transition. That is because my method was changed from a dyed kimono to a knitted kimono, and the knitted plain kimono was converted to a kimono filled with embroidery of spider webs. They are the manner of “transition” of construction, destruction and reconstruction.

Title: Wavelet Year: 2020

Medium: Silk thread, Indigo Dye, Traditional Japanese kimono weaving

Dimension: Life size of woman’s kimono / 62” long x 70”wide (157cmx 178cm)

This work is the first kimono I woven. At the Textile Arts Center, there was also a weaving workshop for residents, and I first came into contact with looms in my life. It's not that I wasn't interested in weaving until now, and I've been studying kimono weaving by visiting various production areas in Japan and collecting woven kimonos. However, I did not come up with the idea of ​​weaving by myself. The image of weaving is the same as that of constructing a building, and I assumed that there was little freedom to produce everything as planned. It is true that the warp threads are woven after the length and width of the weave are decided according to the design. But it is possible to change, and optionally dye the color after stretching the warp. As for the weft, you can freely change the thread and make patterns one step at a time.

It wasn't until I actually used the loom that I realized that. Since then, I have a strong desire to learn weaving techniques, and have participated in a double weaving workshop and an eight heddles garment workshop at the Textile Arts Center. Eventually, I decided to go to Kyoto to learn how to weave kimono, and started learning weaving at Yoshida Hand Weaving Studio, which is located at Nishijin, the center of Japanese kimono weaving district. The weaving of kimono handles thin silk threads, and it is necessary to stretch about 1200 to 2400 warp threads with a length of more than 14yards (13 meters). The processes such as refining, dyeing, bobbin winding, and warping must be completed without damaging the yarn and without entanglement before dressing the loom. It's not something that a beginner in weaving can easily do, but my passion for weaving kimono led to the completion of this work in two months from the beginning.

When I was thinking about designing my first woven kimono, I was looking at a book titled Japanese Stripes written by Seiju Yamazaki and noticed the design named Yokotaki shima stripes. While many kimono stripes are vertical, the Yokotaki shima, which is horizontal and changes its thickness in each border like a graduation. That reminded me of a small wave. And when I think of a loom, the warp is a stream of water, and the shuttle of the weft goes to the right and left, which looks like a small boat that crosses the stream of water and makes small waves. The Yokotaki shima in the book were two colors of indigo, but I put a middle tone color between the dark and light colors to make a wavelet with the three colors of indigo. Each indigo color has the Japanese name of Hanada for dark, Asagi for neutral, and Kame nozoki for light. Expressing water using the thread created by a silkworm and the pigment of indigo grass represents the connection of natural activities.

Also, the wavelets are impermanent and insubstantial, but they repeat indefinitely. It's my artist's statement that I want to convey to the viewer.

Title: Trace Year: 2020

Medium: Silk thread, Goose down, cotton, Lace making

Dimension: 27” long x 11”wide (68cm x 28cm)

This work is a transformation from a practical leggings into an artwork composed of goose down and silk thread.I make a round hole in the used leggings little by little, apply the same lace technique as when making a spider web, gradually cut off the original cloth, and finally leave the shape of the leggings with silk thread and goose down. Goose down was taken out of the down duvet that I bought and used when I got married more than 35 years ago.I washed and used it. I have thrown away a lot of things in my life. And I would have thrown away the leggings and futon. However, when creating works as an artist, I think that these personal things finishing their roles can become irreplaceable and valuable materials after living with me for many years. After I made this work, I feel I need to work more with this idea. This work is in a cycle of destruction and construction, and the cut leggings cloth is passed on to the cycle of reconstruction. I've kept the original material and label as its former identity. It is also a memory how this work was born. The lightness and fragility of the work represent the impermanence and insubstantiality of the world that the Buddha advocates.

Title: Secret Year:2020

Medium: Silk thread, Goose down, Italian pigment, Lace making

Dimension: 6” long x 12” wide (25cm x 30cm)

These three works are my underwear transformed into goose down and silk thread in the same way as leggings, leaving only the shape. In this work, I colored it with an Italian pigment I bought in Venice at Pratt's summer school. Goose down is from a futon over 35 years ago, and silk thread is the remaining thread of sewing. In this work as well, I tried not to remove the original cloth a little to leave the original traces. The label also cherished the word "secret," one was "A's" secret, the other was " 's "secret, and the third was intentionally eliminated. With the image of bacteria decomposing, I will continue to produce works that replace clothes that are no longer used with goose down, silk thread, and other fibers. The original fabric that was removed will be reborn as a new work. I would like to deepen the viewer’s understanding of my artist statement, the world's impermanence, insubstantiality, and the infinite activities by showing my work.

Title: A's Secret Year:2020 Medium: Silk thread, Goose down, Italian pigment, Lace making

Dimension: 6” long x 12” wide (15cm x 30cm)

Title: 'S Secret Year:2020 Medium: Silk thread, Goose down, Italian pigment, Lace making

Dimension: 6” long x 12” wide (15cm x 30cm)

Title: Trash as Material - York and Back Year:2020

Medium: Hemp/ Scrap from knitted kimono, Silk thread, Water soluble fabric, Sewing

Size: Men’s shirts when assembled

I made shirt parts using scraps cut out when making a spider web in the knit kimono:Transition. A piece cut out in a circle is made into an elongated stripe by putting scissors in a zigzag pattern. The pattern of each part of the shirt is traced on a non-woven fabric that dissolves in water and it is covered with elongated stripe pieces so that it becomes a pattern shaped fabric. I sewed the surface to fix the pieces.

After sewing to assemble all patterns, and soaking in water, the non-woven fabric part will melt away and it can be finished as a shirt. However, I chose them to exhibit the parts as they are for showing the processes of this production.

No waste is produced from this work as fabrics are shaped to each shirt pattern and using a cloth that dissolves in water. For making use of scraps, there are techniques such as patchwork and saki ori (torn yarn weaving). My method is characterized by the fact that there is a gap between the cloths, creating a lace-like texture. I used scrap from one work, so it is all white, but with this technique, any small piece of scrap or even a single thread that has been cut off can be incorporated into the work.

Sometimes the artist chooses the material according to the intention of the work he/she wants to produce, and sometimes there is a material like this work and he/she is inspired by it.

Living in a period of mass production and mass consumption, I am not an exception that lives surrounded by things that overflow. I do not dare to get new materials when I create my work because I realized that there are many things that can be interesting materials if I change my perspective. Leftovers produced from one work can be made into a new work like this one. It is important to consider the negative impact on the environment when I create my work and sharing various perspectives with people by giving new value into things that have finished their roles or that can no longer be used for their original purposes.

Title: Trash as Material - Front Year:2020

Medium: Hemp/ Scrap from knitted kimono, Silk thread, Water soluble fabric, Sewing

Size: Men’s shirts when assembled

Title: Trash as Material - Sleeves Year:2020

Medium: Hemp/ Scrap from knitted kimono, Silk thread, Water soluble fabric, Sewing

Size: Men’s shirts when assembled

Title: Trash as Material - Cuffs and Collars Year:2020

Medium: Hemp/ Scrap from knitted kimono, Silk thread, Water soluble fabric, Sewing

Size: Men’s shirts when assembled

Press Release

September 3, 2020, Brooklyn, New York - The Textile Arts Center (TAC), in partnership with the Vanderbilt Republic, is pleased to present ​Subtle Speaks​, on view from 19-28 September 2020 in the TAC Project Space at the Textile Arts Center (505 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, New York 11215). Subtle Speaks features the works by the artists who participated in the 11th cycle of the Textile Arts Center’s Artist in Residence program. Throughout their nine-month residency, these artists enacted methods of care as​ a shared language of survival and community-building. Care is the lens for reclaiming collective power within history, relationships, and language. How do we build a sustainable practice of care? How do we intentionally embody respect and empathy for ourselves and others? ​Slowing down to focus on meditative textile processes have allowed the artists to ponder ​the effectiveness of discretion and quietness as tools for resistance. As these questions have become especially necessary amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial to consider them to uproot histories of violence and inequity. While each work proposes a response that is specific to the artists’ lived experience, when viewed together, it invites us to imagine new expressions of care that reframe ​the past, this present, and our envisioned futures. TAC Artists in Residence Cycle 11 are Anthony Shimek, Aomi Kikuchi, Cong-Tam Nguyen, Marta Nowak, Melissa Joseph, Rowan Renee, Yidan Zeng and Zuhoor Al Sayegh.

ABOUT TEXTILE ARTS CENTER Textile Arts Center (TAC) is a NYC-based resource facility founded in 2009, dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of textiles through creative educational programs for children and adults. At TAC, we aspire to unify the textile community and advocate for the handmade by providing accessible, skills-based classes that reinvigorate engagement with traditional crafts. ABOUT TAC’S ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE Textile Arts Center's Artist in Residence (TAC AIR) program equips artists and designers with resources and skills to better develop and articulate their artistic practices. Through TAC AIR, residents are able to advance their work, actively pursue their career ambitions, foster connections within the textile art community and share their knowledge outside of the studio walls. TAC AIR combines studio access with a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum, regular critical dialogue and mentorship, providing residents an opportunity to learn and explore the textile medium, and an alternative to traditional higher education programs. The residency culminates in a group exhibition produced and hosted by TAC. Since 2010, TAC AIR has graduated over eighty artists and designers whose work continues to further textile art within the fashion, fine arts, design and art education fields. ABOUT THE VANDERBILT REPUBLIC The Vanderbilt Republic (VR, est. 2008) is a production consultancy formed to advance creativity in all modes. Born in Brooklyn, VR knows archetype expansion & radical humanity to be drivers of market leadership and generative social reform. Through our work with pioneering contemporary artists, institutions, producers and brands, the agency offers bespoke solutions in immersive creative production, design & direction with innovative projection methodologies and best-in-class photo/film production. George Del Barrio is VR’s Creative Director × Executive Producer — ​

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