Inspirations and approaches…

I weave tapestries. I weave tapestries the same way they have been woven for hundreds of years. Yet, I am continually trying new approaches, introducing new elements, and incorporating new materials and new inspirations

I have been fortunate to travel to places textiles have played a major role in the creativity of the culture. In the southwestern US I observed Native pueblos where art continues to play a vital role in the spiritual and social life. In the Andes I’ve visited villages whose aesthetic has long intrigued me and in West Africa communities where art still plays a vital role in the spiritual and social life.

Traveling in three different continents may seem divergent; in actuality there is commonality amongst these people’s art and aesthetic. All share a great love of pattern and produce works of striking hue. While tradition is revered, innovation coexists, as new technologies and new ideas surface. Studying Andean textiles and traveling in Latin America has long made a strong impact on my work. Through the elaborate textile tradition of the Andes there has emerged today textile knowledge, sensitivity to color and surface of exquisite mastery. Intricate weaving, Incan stone walls, the pattern of the clay tile roofs of Cuzco, Cuenca, and Quito, even the ruddy colors of the earth and Andean faces have infiltrated my design aesthetic since my first trip there years ago. Now the villages of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Senegal, with its dusty earth juxtaposed against bright tie-dye fabrics and the strikingly colorful abundant markets also join in to create new stimulation.

Some works are inspired by the organic latticework of butterflies, observed in the Amazonian rainforest and African and American butterfly gardens. The beautiful structure and rich color of a butterfly, the contrast of line and lively organic shape, the points and splashes of color—all are calling to me. Butterflies represent progressions found in nature, designs ranging from orderly to fluid, from complex to formal symmetry. Patterns create elegant, lively tension. While grids offer structure, organic grids, like curvilinear labyrinths, impose structure upon the abstract. A recent piece, Crimson Prelude was inspired by a beautiful red, white and black “88” butterfly which rode next me to me for eight hours on a bus window from Cusco, Peru to the rainforest.

I combine a variety of materials to push the boundaries of traditional tapestry weaving. Glass, beads, and other reflective materials heighten contrast. The delicacy of the beaded surfaces offer a rich contrast to the textured surfaces and provide an elegant accent and focal point.

– Rowen Schussheim-Anderson