AIR Interview: Alayna Rasile-Digrindakis
Today we sit down with Alayna Rasile-Digrindakis, and find out what drives her creative processes as well as what she’s been working on for the duration of the AIR Cycle 6 program here at TAC. Alayna comes from a background in archaeology and geography, and has since begun to explore the use of textiles as a narrative device.
How has your background in archaeology and geography influenced your current work, and how did you transition from that background into textiles?
If I were to characterize my academic and professional experiences with a single theme, exploring material culture would be at its core. As a result of my field work and exposure to collections of Native American artifacts, I’m very aware of materials – where things come from and why they’re used. There is no question that spending time with archaeological objects has been inspiring to my creative process. I do think, however, that the bridge between my field of work and my current creative practice was built by the desire for a meaningful connection to my own material culture.
You seem to have explored a vast array of creative mediums (ceramics, illustration, running a b&b, and various textile methodologies) – which is your favorite and how do they influence each other?
They are all one – all of the mediums I work with fall under the umbrella of archaeology. Everything – from weaving cloth to nurturing a community and providing hospitality – is really just a way for me to revisit the past. I’m interested in what has been left behind and how we can decipher and interpret those remains to inform the present. And I’m not sure if scale matters; a geological time scale feels equally informative as the scale of a human life, or even the trajectory of one day. Recently, I’ve begun exploring these concepts of time through sound; I’m curious about how or if an audio recording can merge past and present.
What stories are you most drawn to tell, and could you give an example (or examples) of some of your favorite stories that you’ve told through projects in the past?
In the past year I’ve been working within the conceptual framework ‘GO NORTH GET WARM’ and creating ways to embrace inclement weather through protective textiles and community. I gravitate towards stories about a reverse migration mindset where we approach the cold with a fight mentality over the instinct of flight. Initially, this theme was born out of a rejection of New York City’s frequent winter weather advisories, and the common escapist discourse of going south for the winter. I wanted to consider Arctic environments and inclement weather and start telling stories that would frame these concepts with adventure, togetherness, desire, and awe. Barry Lopez’s book, Arctic Dreams, launched me even further into this theme. Last November, I learned to machine knit and did a project called ‘Juice Train’ – a seven-piece outfit made for the journey north from Florida on the Tropicana juice freight train – which is the fastest northbound train in the country. It’s a playful piece that uses textiles as warmth and plays off this idea of reverse migration.
Which modes of making are you focusing on right now in the studio and what excites you about them?
My exploration of using text in Ikat weaving is pretty exciting. Double Ikat is a wild and satisfying weaving technique; it is an exacting process and involves an extreme amount of measuring. I don’t care much for perfection. In fact, I’m much more interested in letting chance design my patterning. So even though it’s against my nature, I find something very magical about doing all of the leg work involved in preparing the warp and the weft, and then watching text be written in the cloth as I weave.
You can view more of Alayna’s work on her website: http://alaynarasile.com/
Photo credits: Alayna Rasile-Digrindakis, 2015.
* And don’t forget we are now accepting applications for AIR Cycle 7 until April 15th, 2015! You can find more information here.