CLAIRE ZEISLER

As the last reading I did was a little dry I’m returning to some of the artists I came across whilst looking at Sheila Hicks’s work.

Claire Zeisler is the first and I started by reading the transcript of an interview: Oral history interview with Claire Zeisler, 1981 June, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. It was recorded when Claire was 78 at her home in Illinois. She died in 1992, just over ten years after the interview.

Born in 1903 in Ohio but she didn’t really start her practice until the 1950s.

A selection of images from Art Institute Chicago

Designed and executed by Claire Zeisler American, 1903–1991

Fiber Construction Entitled “Red Preview”, 1969
Jute, flanges square knotted and wrapped; cascading ends
240 x 150 cm (96 x 60 in.)
“Black Tuesday”, 1968
Jute and wool, square knotted with cascading ends and wool pile
210 x 150 cm (84 x 60 in.)

Unfinished Hanging, 1950/91

Wooden frame with nails wrapped and crossed with wool and silk; embroidered with wool and silk in back, overcast, single satin, and stem stitches; couching
30.5 x 22.6 cm (12 x 8 7/8 in.)

Incomplete Snake Construction, 1950/91

Cut suede; drawing in ink; strung on cotton threads
103 x 11.4 cm (40 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.)

Wool fibers matted; edged with cotton in needle lace stitches
17 x 12.7 cm (6 3/4 x 5 in.)

“Breakwater”, 1968

Jute and wool
225 x 41.25 cm (90 x 16 1/2 in.)

“Private Affair I”, 1986

Hemp, knotting technique known as macramé (multiple chain knots), twisted and wrapped cords; cut fringe
Approximate height: 320 cm (126 in.)
Approximate spill diameter: 228.6 cm (90 in.)

Hanging, 1960s/70s

Silk and wool, plain weave and plain weave double cloth (areas stuffed) with areas of gauze interlacing and knotting technique known as macramé (bead, flat, and half knots); crochet and cut main warp fringe
122 x 26.7 cm (48 x 10 1/2 in.)

“And she (Dorothy Liebes) really imbued many weavers with a whole different point of view: where the threads took over, rather than the pattern. Now that’s a difference, you see, between, well, say, weaving before the twentieth century, where patterns were the important thing.”

“Dorothy Liebes was a highly respected textile designer who was one of the first American craftspeople to adapt hand woven techniques for mass production.

She began her career as a painter, but since her paintings resembled textiles she switched her primary medium.

After earning multiple degrees, she worked in Paris with several textile designers. A few years later, she set up a studio, where she began taking commissions for commercial fabrics from architects and businesses.

Her career blossomed, and she became known as “America’s first lady of the loom.” ”

Taken from http://www.nesthome.ca

Anni Albers

i200

Anni Albers, La Luz I, 1947
Cotton, hemp, and metallic gimp. JAAF: 1994.12.2
47 x 82.5 cm (18-1/2 x 32-1/2 inches)
©2007 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Lenore Tawney – another artist to investigate some time.

“DB: What attracted you to the knotting technique?

CZ: I like the looks of it. But I also evidently knew enough about it to know that you weren’t confined to anything. That all you needed was yourself and tension. Like I put the material on a nail for that tension, or even a doorknob.”

This part of the interview was very pertinent for me as it was a question I raised in my degree essay – titling my own work is something  I struggle with.

” One thing. Just tell me. Where do you get the titles for your work?

CZ: I don’t know.

DB: There’s such a range of them.

CZ: I pull them out of my head. It so happens that that particular day, you know, something appeals to me. I don’t think they really add too much reference to the pieces.

DB: I was just curious if they did.

CZ: I really do it to identify the pieces; it’s much easier.

DB: Yeah. So you don’t say Wall Hanging Number One, or Free Standing Number Six.

CZ: That’s right, yeah, that’s right.

DB: It’s _____ _____ _____.

CZ: I wasn’t very good at titling the things for that Art Institute show, because that show made me so nervous that I wasn’t relaxed enough to find, you know, some good names.

DB: (laughs) So that people would think about them years from now: What did she mean by that?

CZ: Mean, yeah. Because, as you know, some I. . . . One I call Black Tuesday.

DB: Um hmm.

CZ: Well, we either started it on a Tuesday, or ended it.

DB: Tuesday.

CZ: And one was Red Wednesday, for the same reason.

DB: Um hmm. Simple answers.”

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