The Portuguese artist, well known for her use of varying fiber art techniques to create works of woven sculptural art that draw attention to the need to save our oceans, did not start her journey on this path.
While she began her academic career set on going into the fashion industry, she quickly realized that the trade is one of the biggest polluters in the world and altered course. Now, using upcycled materials and waste from the textile industry, she aims to bring awareness to problems of imbalance in our world.
The works have expanded from the coral reef scenes she began with, and now encompass many textures and environments – you can feel deeply connected with the details of nature she recreates; be it underwater, in the forest, a field of flowers, the lunar landscape, or beyond. Using the most eco-friendly materials and processes available, Vanessa creates to call attention to the importance of our universe, our planet, our home.
*All images copyright Vanessa Barragão
1. Gabriel Dawe (@gabrieldawe)
Gabriel's work is obviously rooted in a fascination with light and color, and seems to visually interpret how the spectrum moves and bends in unseen layers. The way that his Plexus series of installations juxtaposes the scale of space with the scale of material to create deceptively holographic imagery which captures the essence of a rainbow that can be physically experienced is incredible.
2. Breeyn McCarney (@breeynmccarney)
Beginning with an embroidery hoop and some mesh, Breeyn creates work that jumps off the hoop with glamorous embellishment, and often displaying dark and mythical concepts. Her work is where embroidery meets sculpture in fascinating ways and with a variety of materials.
3. Julia Bland (@whoalia)
There's something very natural about the draw that Julia's work has. It seems to be a place where nature meets geometry in unusual ways; there's a sort of sacred language that speaks from her pieces, connecting to a life force within each of us. It's structural, yet organic; mysterious, yet familiar - drawing our attention towards the details of each section.
4. Meghan Shimek (@meghanshimek)
Using the purest form of material, Meghan explores the vast chasm of scale and texture to create works of art that compel us to think. Visual expression of certain concepts and realities come to mind when we view her work, and while the material content doesn't vary from one piece to the next, the imagery and feelings recalled by them do.
5. Caroline Kaufman (@carolinekaufman)
Caroline's work is playful and geometric, and there is an obvious connection between her tufted art and her paintings and hand drawn art - the rugs even seem to retain a sketched quality to their line work and color. We just love scrolling through her ever evolving body of work and watching how each medium influences the next.
"Over the past 6 years my studio focus has shifted from fashion to knitwear to painting to rug making and textile art. all of these practices are fueled by curiosity, play, and exploration of process. Instagram has become an extension of my sketchbook, my studio diary...pursuing a creative career is a winding path, and sometimes very bumpy."Caroline Kaufman - 2019
6. Sarah Zapata (@sylk_z)
Sarah has traditionally explored her identity as a Peruvian American artist by visiting concepts of feminine identity and value through handmade objects. Using a plethora of materials she questions systems, traditions, and cultural relevance through art. Many of her recent works serve as colorful, textural, and sculptural narratives to experience a link with the history of her culture.
7. Hilary Waters Fayle (@hillary.waters)
Hillary's work never ceases to amaze us. The compelling connection to nature by way of embellishment to the elements of it's growth are inspiring. The way that she adds to or takes away from such delicate parts of life are quite honestly mind blowing - as I try to imagine myself doing this task I am already frustrated by the leaf cracking in my hand as I touch it. It is clear that she has a well practiced hand in the accomplishment of her art.
8. Emmanuelle Moureaux (@emmanuellemoureaux)
While all of Emmanuelle's work is not per-say fiber art, it is definitely inspired by fibrous construction in the many layers and colors of production. The grandiose scale of work is compelling on its own, but the bright rich colors attract the eye and the soul, encouraging us to walk around and through these installation experiences in awe.
*all images copyright of the artists.
There are so many ways to communicate ideas through fiber arts, and embroidery is one form that we tend to think of as a tradition lost in time. We connect these strings of thought to a period where girls were taught to do needlework as a right of passage; we immediately think of cross-stitching and flowers. But, in the modern world many women have owned this craft and experimented with various and unique ways of expressing themselves through thread.
What we love most about Stacey's work is her incredible use of color and composition. Her skilled execution of stitches and layering are also impressive. We never get bored looking at her page, as her style always seems to be evolving - going through a variety of applications of her medium; from geometric to free flowing, abstract to natural, and sometimes scientific and cellular.
Han's playful experimentation of medium and imagery is grossly appealing. The way she embellishes photos, postcards, stamps, and natural elements weaving together concept and form is uniquely fascinating.
Is there something familiar about her work? Absolutely. Knie states, "I’ve been embroidering viruses for over 8 years now", and with the impact that Covid-19 has had in the world, this seems more contextual now than ever before. Her love of science and space are apparent in her work, and we love the way her stitches preserves microscopic views.
If texture is your thing, Hughes nails it. Her use of a variety of threads and yarns, each with their own unique properties, combine in 3 dimensional application for a finished product that is bursting with color and personality. There's something abstractly floral about her work, which bursts off the hoop like a beautiful bouquet.
Bennings' pictorial embroidery has an illustrative quality to it that is so graphic in nature, we would love to see it in book format (an embroidered book). Her focus seems to be plant life, but she also captures landscapes and personal human moments in time (such as reading a good book or mixing a drink).
We just love how Wilde's work transports us to the ocean, with textures and 3 dimensional applications that are so realistic that we can't help but hear the lapping of the waves on the sand. Her color selections are very natural and soothing - adding to the connection of environment and application.
Reinterpreting the tattoo art paintings of her daughter (@gan_dalf) into embroidery so accurately, you almost see it in ink. Besides appreciating the skill of her craft, we love to see a great mother daughter collaboration.
Natalie's work falls into two main categories for us. There's the embroidery on paper using basic lines and geometry, and including natural materials, that has a clean and simple yet powerful appeal. And then there's the dissection of color in imagery, sometimes skewing photos with a time warp reminiscent effect.
Emily's embroidery inspired by natural textures often brings us to the ocean floor or on a study of geological forms, but there's an abstract quality to the layers she creates which is almost cellular in essence - bringing our thoughts to the base elements of nature's structure.
*all photos © the individual artists.
In the digital age we find ourselves glued to our screens, scrolling past the many videos, photos, and graphic arts created with the aid of computers or other technological devices - often forgetting the painstaking traditions of hand crafted arts, such as weaving or embroidery. But, artists from around the world continue to create these handmade labors of love, connecting the past with the present in new and sometimes unexpected ways.
Brooklyn based artist Erin M. Riley is the most notable example of a weaver who connects the traditional weaving methods of times past with her experiences a person raised in the digital age (or “as a queer human who grew up in chat rooms” as she puts it).
Some of her work expresses imagery that many people may find disturbingly personal or compromising - such as masturbation or the tweezing of nipple hairs, as well as woven depictions of pornhub screenshots. Then of course there are her mirror selfies (inclusive of her colorful body art) and still life depictions of items and photos which tell her story - a tribute to personal growth. What we find most interesting from Riley's vast body of work are the sociopolitical commentaries which are portrayed through woven imagery - statements about drug use or alcoholism, police brutality, the gap between classes of people, women's rights, etc.
Her skill as an artist is evident through the details of her work, as is the strength of her convictions and her understanding of the world around her.
To see more of Erin's incredible work check out her instagram page.
All images ©Erin M. Riley.