The medium in which I choose to work is fiber, primarily flat woven pieces. I’ve picked this less than common medium, having been drawn to the possibilities of relationships between subliminal texture and the interaction of light and color.
Having taken this route, the weavings can become an embodiment of the freedom to explore how colors relate to each other and to the surface properties of the fibers used. Pure color and specific color combinations of color have the power to speak to each of us, often producing differing responses in each person. By limiting the vocabulary to color and woven texture, the works are better able to stimulate reactions and emotions that these raw color and spatial relationships can have on the viewer. By limiting the vocabulary to color and woven texture, the works are better able to stimulate reactions and emotions that these raw color and spatial relationships can have on the viewer.
Pictured: Closeup of Michael's loom, tools and a work in progress
2006, handwoven tapestry: Navajo wool, Tibetan wool, madder, 49½" x 38½”
In this tapestry Michael melds the ideas of compassion and impermanence. During his travels, he had seen the prayer flags in rural nomadic regions of Tibet. Michael was dismayed at the treatment of the Tibetan people, not unlike what happened to Native Americans. These emotions prompted him to chose to incorporate both Tibetan and Navajo yarns in the creation of this tapestry.
In the details of these emulated languages, one can imagine translating a message woven in the, flowing marks and gestural lines created in this series.
This piece raises questions with the use of closely related colors and barely discernible top-to-bottom paths of contrasting blocks. When the opportunity arises to see this piece in person one is challenged even to discern and question the exact colors. Are those blues or, you almost ask yourself it they are greens.
2018, handwoven tapestry: wool and natural dyes, 76” x 47”
An image of the first 160 pages of the Mueller Report, with the blacked out parts clearly visible, inspired the imagined language imagery in this tapestry. The title and visual impact of this piece refers to the issue of controlled access to information or written language.
2018, handwoven tapestry: wool, mohair, natural dyes, 77” x 48½”
This Piece was inspired by the first true Tibetan location we visited, after days in Beijing and travel through Lanzhou; buildings painted a salmon whitewash color, monks in maroon robes and the occasional touch of green
The monastic complex in the town of Litang was striking with many of the exterior walls painted in these colors. We were there for the Horse Festival, which was overshadowed by extensive military presence and aggressive treatment of the Tibetan festival attendees.
“Yushu” - the Nomad Festival, near Yushu brought thousands of nomadic Tibetans, often in their finest clothes and jewels (amber, coral and turquoises), often a mix of ancestral heirlooms and new finery of rare colors, such as these.
Influenced by an incredible monastic group, with new buildings mixed with old ruins, and a workshop making large copper Buddhas; the new building was a rich complicated color between oxblood and brown. The new building was undertaken by the Chinese, to replace the ancient monastery destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. New by a few years, but unused as the monks did not have the keys.
This piece began with the idea of depicting an ideally diverse neighborhood, town or planet. The sketch for this was of an arrangement of houses with a random mixing of skin-tone colors. As sometime happens, once the tapestry was finished and photographed, I saw another allusion: the houses were tightly packed and might be seen as a commentary on overpopulation and exhaustion of the resources of our world.
2007, handwoven tapestry: wool, silk, alpaca, mohair, llama, camel, natural dyes, 66” x 39¼”
I started using a small loom when my partner was ailing, to be able to sit with him and be able to talk and still weave; this later found its use when traveling, especially on long bus trips.
My usual approach to these little projects is to select 30-50 colors that I want to use in that weaving; most often I use silk for these small scale works, and frame the end result under museum grade plexiglass.
This whole process is a way to use time that would be idle, looking out a window. The design process is strictly governed by the initial color choices for one weaving, so these would not be considered to be concept driven. Sometimes the travel will inform the color choices. Rather than sketches, I think of these a color exercises, which may lead to larger pieces, but usually do not.
view below, for a peek into Michael's studio and artist and loom in action
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