Client: UNC Rex Heart and Vascular Hospital
Location: Raleigh, NC, United States
Completion date: 2017
Artwork budget: $16,000
The Mahler Fine Art Gallery
“Conversations” is a suite of 4-38″ x 38″ weavings installed on a wall approximately 11’ x 20”. Sited in a busy family and friends waiting area, the artwork needed to visually hold the wall, provide warmth in contrast to the stone surface, and offer visitors relief from the worries that brought them there. It needed to engage viewers from a long distance as well as close up. “Conversations” is immediately visible upon entering the large open space that has seating on one side and a café on the other.
Hospital planners visited several major US health centers and were quickly convinced of art's healing benefits. Inclusion of original artwork became a goal from the beginning and interior and exterior locations were identified during the design process. My weavings and several other 2- and 3-dimensional works were commissioned for specific spaces, while remaining choices were made from artists' existing inventories.
A Raleigh gallery owner who has been in business for over 30 years was hired as curator to oversee all aspects of selecting and placing artwork in the facility. The gallery represents me and the curator visualized my weavings for the space from the beginning of the selection process. Funding for artwork purchases was a separate part of the overall capital campaign, and by the time backing was secured for "Conversations," there was a scant 10 week lead time for production and installation. I used the computer to customize sketches I was already working on for other weavings and presented three variations of a series of four weavings from which the curator chose. My production process is complicated and time intensive. Beginning with white cotton fabric. I used shibori, a Japanese tie dye technique, to create shapes and colors on it before ripping it into 1/2" widths and threading it on the loom for the warp. The weft is also hand dyed 1/2" strips that are woven using a modified tapestry technique. I finished all aspects of weaving and finishing the pieces for installation one day early.
My commissions creatively solve a specific visual problem, efficiently, on time and within budget. I listen carefully to client visions and needs, offer several design options, plan work stages thoroughly, generate accurate cost estimates, and follow through on contract specifications. The processes of dyeing and weaving enable me to create subtleties, complexities, the illusion of layers and depth, and new colors and compositions. I draw inspiration from historic and contemporary textiles from many cultures and time periods, as well as from rhythms and hues in the natural and built landscape.