Author Archives: wendyrweiss

About wendyrweiss

Wendy Weiss weaves three dimensional spaces in which viewers interact. She collaborates with Jay Kreimer to create interactive sound environments, sculpture, and projected images. Natural dyes sourced directly from her garden are the primary coloring agent for the fibers, which are a combination of cellulose, such as cotton and linen; protein, primarily wool and silk; and nylon mono-filament (which dyes beautifully with natural dyes.

Braided River Broad Shallows

The North Platte and the South Platte Rivers meet near the city of North Platte, Nebraska, and form the Platte River, which flows 310 miles across the state where it meets the Missouri River. In the Kearney, NE area, it serves as a staging ground for the annual migration north of the Sandhill Crane. They feed in nearby cornfields by day and roost in the river by night, adding up to a pound of fat to their body weight before they take flight again toward their nesting grounds.

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Braided River Broad Shallows. Jay Kreimer and Wendy Weiss. 2019. Museum of Nebraska Art, Exhibition titled “A River Runs Through It.”

In 1714 Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont (born 1679) was the first recorded European to come upon a river which the Oto people called the Nebrathka, meaning “flat water.” The French word for flat is plat and eventually the river became known as the Platte.

Teliza Rodriguez, the curator of the Musuem of Nebraska Art, invited Jay Kreimer and me to create a piece for an exhibition titled “A River Runs Through It,” (February 26 – July 21, 2019) and requested we develop a work to place underneath the central skylight in the main exhibition space. The premise for the exhibition is the “Platte River – from the sounds and sights of the land, flora, and fauna that surround, inhabit, and visit it to the sky that stretches far above.”

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Detail. Braided River Broad Shallows

This work began in October 2018. I designed the weaving using software called ProWeave. I wanted to use a weave structure that would show movement, like the current or movement of water, and I wanted the color to reflect the colors of a setting or rising sun. We often think that water is blue, but when looking at a river, the color is always changing and relates to the light in the sky, the depth of the water, the time of year and any number of other details.

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Warping the loom from back to front. The perle cotton warp is set onto the back of the loom as I prepare to set it into the raddle to wind it onto the back beam.

Once I determined the size of the weaving—I calculated how big each weaving would need to be—I discovered it would take up to 30 lbs. of cotton thread. For the dye, I used plants I have collected. Fortunately I have been harvesting flower tops for many years and had dried marigolds, cosmos, and other traditional dye plants, weld and madder root, that I had on hand to use.

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The lighter colors are from the plant dyes and the darker shades result from dipping sections of the dyed warp into a ferrous bath.

I modified a weave structure by Franz Donat, published in 1890 in Bindungs-Lexikon fur Schaftweberei downloaded from Handweaving.net. If you look at the ends of the weavings you can see the strips, but the diagonal nature of the weave structure, along with the red/orange of the weft color, alters the perception of the strip, so it is not clear to the eye.

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I worked on the yarn preparation for this project for 1 1/2 months: winding over 4,000 warp threads; binding the warp so when I dyed and wove them they spelled out the word FLAT; preparing the yarns for dyeing, including washing the natural cotton to remove any natural oils and debris, mordanting them in a tannin bath followed by an alum bath; soaking the plant material to make the dye; filling big pots of water to cook the dye; dipping sections of the yarn into a ferrous pot to create the dark strips of colors; drying the yarn and rinsing it. The next step was to remove all the binding.

Meanwhile, Jay Kreimer worked on developing the clouds and the eight foot legs of the crane, dropping from the sky. He also created a score that combines natural and created sound to complete the piece. We consulted on color and how to work with the space of the skylight. When we deinstall the work in late July 2019, I will be able to see how the color holds up to the natural light coming into the space from the doors and skylight.

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Suspended from the skylight, two eight foot legs welcome viewers into the exhibition space.
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Gaza, Scar, Camp

Gaza-Scar-CampP1030670FIBERART INTERNATIONAL 2019

This weaving presents three compelling words in response to bloody and deadly protests taking place in Gaza from March to May 2018. “Gaza, Scar, Camp” speak to experiences both Jews and Palestinians have lived with in profound ways. For millennia Jews endured the scars of hate, ostracization, and pogroms. The horrific experience of the Nazi death camps is indelible and enduring. Palestinians in Gaza have lived in desperate straits over decades and generations. Israeli and Egyptian blockades, checkpoints and roadblocks make  access to basic necessities such as school, food, health services, and work extremely difficult. A solution to the Palestinian crisis is a humanitarian necessity and needs to be addressed in the larger context of a volatile, destabilized region.

Fiberart International is a benchmark exhibition presenting the best in contemporary fiber art. FI2019 is the 23rd in an ongoing series of triennial exhibitions. I will be showing this new work called “Gaza, Scar, Camp.”

EXHIBITION DATES:   May 31 – August 24, 2019, Pittsburgh, PA

Fantastic Fibers 2018

If you are traveling this spring, stop in to see Fantastic Fibers 2018 at the Yeiser Art Center. I will be showing Litzmannstadt Getto, 1940-1944 in the show.

Five Textile Society of America members are represented in this year’s exhibition, which runs April 14 – June 9, 2018 at the Yeiser Art Center, 200 Broadway St, Paducah, KY 42001, (270) 442-2453. Arturo Sandaval was the juror. You will find a complete list of artists on the Yeiser Art Center web page. Liztmannstadt Getto won Best of Show award.

Surface Design Association

Guest Editor 40th Anniversary Summer Issue

I was honored to be the guest editor of the summer issue and enjoyed developing content, working with the authors, staff, and editor Marci Rae McDade.

Your copy of the Summer Issue, Making our Mark: SDA at 40, is available with membership to the Surface Design Association, http://www.surfacedesign.org/

Angela Hennessy’s Untitled (floor mat) (detail) 2016, velcro dots, 42″ in diameter is featured on the front cover. Great articles and more excellent visuals inside.

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Excavated Pattern, Oregon College of Arts and Crafts

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At the Making our Mark conference in Portland, Oregon, August 3-6, 2017, I returned to a theme I have explored recently and installed 13 digitally cut vinyl patterns, my interpretation of Indian block-printed textiles found in Egypt. Ruth Barnes, as curator of the textile collection at Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, undertook the task of cataloguing well over 1,000 textile artifacts from the Newberry Collection dating from the 12th to the 16th century. This exceptional collection and scholarly document is the foundation for this artwork. The fragments on average are typically under 15” in length and width, yet reveal complex patterns, captured through digital tools to reintroduce them to conference attendees.IMG_1375

Excellence In Fibers

Excellence In Fibers is on view until March 19, 2017 at New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! Four weavings are on exhibit. Fiber Art Now, a quarterly print and digital magazine, developed the exhibition.

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Resist. 2016. Natural dye on cotton, handwoven.

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Game. 2016. Natural dye on cotton, handwoven.

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Game #2, 2017. Natural dye on cotton, handwoven.

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Rhythm Game #1. 2017. Natural dye on cotton and wool, handwoven.