Johansson Projects presents Susie Taylor’s recent works in our online viewing room. All of these works were created in 2022 for the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery titled “Origin Stories,” alongside Alexi Antoniadis, August 27 – October 27, 2022.
Susie’s textile panels – handcrafted with a traditional loom and cotton or linen yarn – seduce the eye with vibrant colors and geometric motifs. Her work dissolves the space between art and craft practices, positioning weaving at the core of her exploration of aesthetics. She is a Bay Area-based artist, and looks not only to Anni Albers but also Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly. She studied, worked and continues to create within the lineage of the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College weavers. Some of her greatest influences come from these legendary weaving workshops and from their students, such as Kay Sekimachi’s dimensional weavings.
Her works “Badland” and “Hotspot” were recently acquired into the de Young Museum’s permanent collection in San Francisco.
Susie’s work explores geometric abstraction through the tradition of weaving, a process that requires a creative and technical mindset to solve visual and structural puzzles. Imagery, rendered by the interlacing of warp and weft, is embedded in the very structure of the cloth. The interplay of yarns produces discernible color tones and textures that support a deeper exploration of translucency, opacity, saturation and dimension. Inspired by Formalism and the Bauhaus, her compositions include basic shapes like blocks and stripes to address pattern, symmetry and color interaction, and the notion that ordered systems can still flirt with chance, interruption, and improvisation.
Satin Weave Series / photo credit James Dewrance
Satin weaves are unique because they allow for defined areas to be either warp dominant or weft dominant, resulting in a smooth surface with nearly full color saturation. This body of weave structures can also be modified (shaded satins) to express a gradual transition from one extreme to another.
Shaded Satin Stripes – Axis, Suite & Whirl (below) – rely on a hybrid approach of combining loom-controlled satin structures with a hand manipulation technique to achieve the diagonal lines. Using shaded satin weaves allows me to articulate a gradual transition between extremes while also expressing visual dimension that springs from a 2D surface.
“There is a vulnerability to the presentation of the work in the Satin Weave Series. The woven edges (selvedges) are highlighted, not hidden, as a reminder that the process of handweaving is manual not industrial. There is a certain charm found in the evidence of hand-made processes associated with the tradition of craft.”
Above works, from top to bottom: Satin Studies Series
Ignite Stripes (2022), Hand-dyed linen mounted on Belgian linen, 37 x 26 inches;
Ignite Plaid (2022), Hand-dyed linen mounted on Belgian linen, 37 x 26 inches;
Linear Gradient and Stripes Study (2022), Hand-dyed linen mounted on cotton canvas, 34 x 24 inches; Colossal Weave Study (2022), Hand-dyed linen mounted on cotton canvas, 34 x 24 inches
Colossal Weave Study and Dimensional Stripes Study are rendered in heavy hand-dyed linen yarn using loom-controlled warp satin and weft satin weaves. These works explore optical effects of using high contrast (black and white) while examining the possibilities of visual dimension and flatness.
Social Fabric suggests that our overall strength depends on the interconnectedness of many diverse, individual components.
Social Fabric is a large-scale piece woven in two panels which have been hand-stitched together. It is rendered in heavy cotton yarns using warp satin and weft satin weaves to allow for nearly full saturation of color. This work is directly inspired by Frank Stella’s printmaking series and Richard Anuszkiewicz’s paintings that utilize linear gradients to depict dimensional cylindrical forms. In this case, the cylindrical shapes reference colossal yarns woven together in an intricate self-referential weave structure – a weaving about weaving. Social Fabric suggests that our overall strength depends on the interconnectedness of many diverse, individual components.
Op Origami Series / photo credit James Dewrance
I combine weaving and origami together by modifying my process in order to create
discontinuous pleats that get folded into perplexing compositions. Often I play with the notion of bending vertical lines into horizontal lines through the method of folding the woven pleats. Different stripe sequences will result in a variety of strong, optical effects that become the rhythmic building blocks within my layouts. The origami folding results in a subtle, low relief effect that accentuates the pulsating visuals. Op Origami Series is a follow-up to an earlier series of striped origami weaves.
This regulated stripe pattern becomes the base cloth and remains the border that
surrounds an abstract composition of interlocking meandering lines. The interruption of ordered systems is an inherent part of this highly visual work and the tailored, wrapped edges reflect the formal nature of this series.
These works are rendered using thick and thin black and white stripes constructed with hand-dyed linen yarn.
Iconic Stripes Series / photo credit James Dewrance
Stripes are basic design elements that most weavers incorporate into their work. Like so many others, I love to experiment with different stripe layouts to see what kind of visual effects are possible. After reading The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes by Michel Pastoureau, I came to appreciate the mostly fraught historical record of striped cloth dating back to before biblical times. I came to see that stripes are not merely decorative afterthoughts but instead hold specific social and/or cultural meanings, particularly in the context of cloth.
From that understanding, I began to think about how certain stripe patterns are very identifiable and how people may have strong associations with stripes from advertising, memory, and everyday objects. My objective for Iconic Stripes was to identify a body of recognizable stripe patterns that could be paired together to expand on the formal visual experience of each individual pattern.
These works are composed in a simple tessellated block layout. The figure and ground occupy the exact same area so that one does not dominate the other. By keeping the geometry equalized, the stripes take on the role of either being dominant, submissive, or harmonious. The vertical stripes are rendered in warp-faced satin weave and the horizontal stripes in a weft-faced satin weave. This construction allows for a saturation of color without much contamination from the opposing threads. The tidy, wrapped edges capture the overall ambition of precise calculation and disciplined execution.
“After reading The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes by Michel Pastoureau, I came to appreciate the mostly fraught historical record of striped cloth dating back to before biblical times.”
Above works, from top to bottom: Iconic Stripes Series
Iconic Stripes 2 (2022), Cotton weaving, 44 x 33 inches;
Iconic Stripes 3 (2022), Cotton weaving, 44 x 33 inches;
Iconic Stripes 4 (2022), Cotton weaving, 44 x 33 inches;
Iconic Stripes 5 (2022), Cotton weaving, 44 x 33 inches;
Iconic Stripes 6 (2022), Cotton weaving, 44 x 33 inches
About the Artist
Susie Taylor has exhibited her work in the U.S. and in international fiberart and contemporary textile biennials in China and Ukraine and has two works in the permanent collection of the deYoung Museum, San Francisco. Solo and group exhibitions include Poetic Geometry, at Textile Center Minneapolis; MATERIAL MEANING: A Living Legacy of Anni Albers at Craft in America Center, Los Angeles; and FIBER ART: 100 YEARS OF BAUHAUS at Art Ventures Gallery, Menlo Park, CA. She is the recipient of a Handweavers Guild of America, Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving Level 1 and received an HGA Award for Beautiful Struggle at the National Fiber Direction 2015 at the Wichita Center for the Arts. She was awarded an HGA Award and the Innovation Award at Focus: Fiber 2014 at the Erie Art Museum. Other notable exhibitions include: Materials Hard and Soft, Greater Denton Arts Center, Fiber Arts VII, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, FAN: New Fibers 2014, Eastern Michigan University Gallery, and New Voices in Weaving, Contemporary Crafts Gallery- Portland; and in the forthcoming exhibition “Weaving At Black Mountain College: Anni Albers, Trude Guermonprez, and Their Students” at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, curated by Michael Beggs and Julie Thomson.
Her work has been published in The LA Times, American Craft, Fiberarts, FiberArt Now, The Textile Eye, Complex Weavers Journal, Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, Handwoven, Journal of Weavers Spinners & Dyers and The Bulletin (Guild of Canadian Weavers) magazines. She has taught at Penland School of Arts & Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts and Tyler School of Art.