Art in Ubiquity
Written essay entitled Memory Cloth for the publication Art in Ubiquity: The Handwoven Tea Towel that was released as part of an exhibition at the Alberta Craft Council, and in collaboration with the Edmonton Weavers’ Guild.
I am a weaver;
celebrated through sensation
known by touch
memorialized in material culture
/ to the intrinsic grid
by rachel snack
I think of the women who came before me: Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Claire Zeisler, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Lenore Tawney and Eve Hesse. As I sit at my loom – my bare feet moving over the wooden treadles, my hand running along the selvedge of the weaving cascading over the front beam, while my other hand holds a shuttle waiting to be thrown – I am forever connected. I am one with the loom in rhythm and repetition, linked in body and breath, eternally honored to craft line in homage to the tradition of weaving.
It is here at the loom that I construct my rite of passage. I weave objects of memory that carry the power of my remembrances and the resonance of my body in motion. They are the preservation of my place in the non-relational matrix, the eternal grid. These weavings are made on the loom in connection to the [woven] grid, in order to create a visual of my sacred space and a religion of cloth apart from the loom. Likewise, the woven grid is in part a path to commemoration, strengthening the connection of material to place once removed from the hand of the maker. This can be found in the theory of the grid extending beyond – beyond weaving, being, structure, art, spatial language and form – that permits a chasm of indefinite making to occur.
The practice of weaving is a relationship not only of body and loom, but also of experience and touch, cultivating a human awareness of everyday living. Cloth provides a way to intimately engage with the world, helping contextualize what it means to be human and preserving our identities in material culture. As soon as we are born, we are introduced to textiles. We are cleaned with delicate wash clothes and swaddled into a blanket to feel not so far removed from the comfort of our mother’s womb. We are given plush toys, quilted blankets and soft cotton clothing. Touch becomes comfort, and as we grow, textiles continue to play a large part in our lives. They [textiles] serve in a functional dimension as one with the body, a second layer, storing the physical memory of our daily routines. The impact of this association is an accumulation of factors all weighted in textile history – the daily use of cloth, the comfort associated with most fiber related objects and the natural tendency to memorialize material matters.
Textiles remember, unintentionally and by design, due to their fragility and naturally transient existence. Not dissimilar to people, cloth embraces a similar cycle of time, making it almost impossible to disengage human routine from a tactile influence. The memory of touch reads like a poem,
fingertips brushing against linen
an ice cream stain on a worn cotton blouse / lingers, a warm summer day
grandma’s perfume dusting a patchwork quilt
the frayed edge
forever joined, embraced in a satin gown
Through touch, cloth forms a tangible language, a dialect between the body and the space it inhabits. A tactile blueprint is created as textiles absorb everyday moments, recording and remembering daily use that becomes a breathing history of one’s experiences. This preservation of self through cloth to heirloom, provides a vessel of one’s history as well as material evidence of the human hand, bearing witness.
I am a weaver – imprinted in cloth and forever connected.