The Artist

Rachel Hefferan

Rachel Hefferan

My work is an exploration in the structure of cloth, creating abstractions of an invisible living network that functions unseen all around us. Microbes serve the purpose of recycling the basic materials that make up all life, transferring energy and protein from one life to another, our world’s building blocks. My source imagery is of microscopic organisms, yeasts, and fungi, all of which play a central role in every ecosystem.

A loom in its simplest form is threads-under-tension – the tension acting as an organizing device that prevents the collapse of threads into chaos. These threads under tension are the building blocks with which I represent the unseen world we depend on. I use a loom to render complex groups of patterns structurally inseparable. I’m using pattern, texture and light to make the typical human position of viewing of a work – straight on – as less colorful, literally. When the viewer walks to the side, removes themselves from a point of centrality, the colors in the work reveal themselves – loud, bright, almost as if on a different register. In this moment the intent is that the viewer will take a second look, come close to inspect the surface. In the moment of looking closer, the viewer’s body enacts the function of the microscope. The bulk and size of the weaving allow it to move slowly, giving the viewer hints to move their body around the cloth, and maybe to peek at the back – another front?

The line the thread takes as it travels from one edge to the other can be compared to the infinite rearranging of simple components that structure all life: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Materials used are recycled, discarded industry mill ends, apt in the metaphor of the restructuring of life’s most basic materials that are no longer needed. In the same way that an image of a living colony of microbial life is translated from a visual observation into a weave draft, the multiple states of translation blur what is micro and what is macro – giving each new consideration. As this is my interest, a hint to the conceptual source is given in the titles, which are written as amino acid chains. Amino acid chains can, and have been used, to conceal language – as each structure is short-hand as a one letter code, words can be written as chains that mimic those in nature. The names of the microbes in my source imagery, actual living creatures, are named with a fictional visual that is both correct and unreal at the same time, an abstraction to pair with the patterns that enact the rearranging that microbes facilitate in nature.

Our future does not exist out in the stars but here, within. Through interlacement and layering of color and thread, the weavings demonstrate complexities of interconnectivity.


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