What does this mean? It means that my work explores ideas through the making of forms by way of thread and loom. I push the boundaries of what textiles want to do, what they have done historically. I ask new things of them.
I believe that the iterative nature of time and existence becomes apparent to anyone who works on a loom, where one naturally witnesses the accretion of moment upon moment, the laying in of thread upon thread. The act of weaving opens the weaver to a state of timeless consciousness. Therein lies the technology’s power, its magic.
Material. Over the past several years my work has been informed by the unique properties of specialized yarns produced in small quantities at specialized mills, mostly in Japan. They are made of linen, paper, and silk. They are uniquely light, strong, and crisp.
Color. A key component of my recent work is the use of natural dyes and pigments. My blues come from natural indigo dye. It yields a unique range of blue tones that can’t be arrived at any other way. I collaborate on the dyeing process with dye-master Rowland Ricketts, professor at Indiana University.
In addition to natural indigo, I like to use artist’s pigment instead of synthetic dyes. I use sumi ink (made from pine soot, used in calligraphy) walnut ink (old-master drawings), and watercolor pigments. I use soymilk as a pigment binder, a technique used in Japanese silk-painting.
These pigments have an ancient and organic history. They are deeply material, deeply physical. You can feel that in the work.
Line. Textiles are inherently flat and are built one thread at a time. I think of my fiber work as line drawings made one line at a time, not as woven structures. Each line of thread is significant. I have placed it there with intention.
Form. My work also explores form. Once the lines of thread have been woven into a textile, I manipulate the textile like paper. I explore how it bends and folds. What shapes can I make with it? How do the shapes play with the colors I have painted? What is it like when I create groupings of similar forms?
These are the questions I enjoy thinking about.
Wendy Kowynia lives and works in a small semi-heated studio just steps from her backdoor in Steamboat Springs Colorado. Her work pushes beyond the traditional boundaries of weaving. Her pieces evolve slowly, one thread at a time, at a pace just as slow as the snowflakes that fall all winter. What she likes best is to sit quietly at the loom, engaged in the slow meditative rhythm of weaving.