Category Archives: collaboration

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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There’s Always an Apex Predator

Tugboat Gallery, Lincoln, Nebraska’s most hip alternative space presented “There’s Always an Apex Predator” featuring new work by Jay Kreimer and Wendy Weiss, September 2-29, 2016.

“There’s Always an Apex Predator” explores crocodiles, prisoners of war, the holocaust and more though painted wood sculptures, digitally cut vinyl wall installations, prints and a sound score by Jay Kreimer and Adam Zahller. The work in this collaborative exhibition is entirely new and is drawn from experiences in India, personal and world history, and current political events.p1070795-sm

Kreimer’s father was a prisoner of war in World War ll. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge. Kreimer states his father was “marched and marched, lined up at a pit to be shot, was not shot, and ended at Stalag lXB, Bad Orb, Germany.” Weiss adds this was “the worst German prison camp from which, in 1945, Jewish prisoners and perceived troublemakers were sent to the Berga concentration camp, a slave labor camp that mixed American POWs with Holocaust victims in a work to death frenzy.” Eldon Kreimer spoke little about his time in Stalag lXB, but he did tell a story about dividing a packet of raisins from a Red Cross package between his fellow prisoners. Starving, as they all were, he held back three extra raisins for himself and ate them. Later he felt compelled to confess this transgression to his group. Three raisins.p1070801-sm
Our interest in his experience paralleled what developed from a latent interest for me about the Holocaust and cruelties in Europe during World War ll. As a child, my father had been gripped with the significance Holocaust and the industrialized murder of European Jews. In 2014, unintentionally, we stayed on the site of the Łódź Ghetto in Poland, called the “Litzmannstadt Getto” because during the war the occupiers briefly renamed the city after a German general who invaded the city in WWI.

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Other forms of predation entered our thoughts. Animals and insects in the service of men to torment—dogs and fleas—for example.

p1070805We lived for much of the past few years in Vadodara, Gujarat, a city of two million with the distinction of harboring the largest population of wild crocodiles in a city of that size in the world. They conclude, “so the crocodiles came to this party: Apex Predators.”

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Thanks to Nebraska Innovation Studio, a makerspace/fab lab, on Nebraska Innovation Campus, where we use terrific equipment and workspace for the development of the vinyl portion and some of the wood working portions of the installation. Check it out! And much gratitude to Peggy and Nolan and the super helpers at Tugboat.