Illustration: Virginia Abrams. Reflections 5, 2009.
I am always pleasantly surprised and even intrigued when considering how many contemporary textile artists arrive at the genre from such diverse creative journeys and backgrounds. It perhaps says much about the comprehensive appeal of textile art that so many individuals feel compelled to take up the genre. Obviously, because of the diversity of these individual artists, textile art itself broadens its parameters immensely.
The American textile artist Virginia Abrams has a background in organic chemistry and biochemistry. She is fascinated with the complex interactions of the natural world and her work is centred on this fascination. Abrams work runs on themes suggested by nature. I have chosen one of these themes water, to illustrate this article. All of these pieces are literally reflections. However, it would be misleading to believe that they are merely optical observations conceived by Abrams. These are complex recipes using ingredients of light, air and water, all with shifting parameters. Each element adds its unique quality to the composition.
Illustration: Virginia Abrams. Reflections 1, 2008.
It is the combination and arrangement of elements that is the important point to remember when contemplating the nature of Abrams work. In what can appear to be an almost scientific fascination with the symbiotic partnership of the elements that are part of the makeup of the natural world, the artist draws our attention to the complexity of each moment. How each element contacts and subsequently influences the other is a fascinating creative exploration. We are asked to consider how many procedures and how many connections have to be made in order for water to ripple and for a reflection to be disturbed.
Illustration: Virginia Abrams. Reflections 4, 2009.
In some respects, these compositions are frozen moments in time, never to be repeated exactly with those particular elements and with those particular parameters. This implies that all connections with nature, particularly those as experienced from the human conception, are fleetingly unique moments in time. The proportions of Abrams compositions are therefore also unique; showing us a snapshot of a complex series of actions and reactions that take place between light, air and water with the added, but all important element as far as textile art is concerned, of colour and tone.
What seems to work exceptionally well in these particular compositions is that of the tranquil, balanced and seemingly limited colour palette, which on closer inspection is of course anything but simple. It entails a much more complex and accomplished use of colour, tone and texture on the part of the artist. However, the contemplative nature of the compositions draws the individual towards a sense of introspection of an almost meditative quality. Perhaps it could be said that these particular compositions are reflective in more ways than that of the obviously optical and observational.
Illustration: Virginia Abrams. Reflections 3, 2008.
Abrams work is impressive on both art and craft level. She has an intrinsic understanding of the balance and harmony that can be achieved through correct composition. Her confident use of materials and textile skills adds to the winning combination, helping to take the genre of textile art to yet another level of achievement.
There is a link to Virginia Abrams comprehensive website in the reference links section below, where many more of her textile art pieces can be found.
Artwork is reproduced with the kind permission of the artist.
Illustration: Virginia Abrams. Reflections 6, 2009.
Virginia Abrams website