AIR Interview: Rebekah Bassen

Rebekah Bassen, one of our AIR cycle 8 residents, has been experimenting with the combination of monofilament and heavy wool yarn to create tubular double cloth structures. She has been working a lot with light and how it can interact with her weavings to cast shadows with movement. She is influenced by architecture and landscape, both urban and rural. I had the pleasure of talking in more detail with Rebekah about her influences and her creative process.

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On her creative background:

“Growing up, I had access to a lot of scraps that were the tools for my creative exploration. My grandfather was a carpenter so I was always building impromptu tree houses in the woods with planks dragged from the burn pile and my mother had a lot of fabric scraps around that became countless “half finished” explorations in undetermined forms. I eventually became interested  in photography as means of capturing frames of the world around me while also being attracted to the manual practice of bringing images forward from the physical film. There was a sense of time and process that I think I’ve also found in my current work.”

“I had always been interested in weaving and the act of transforming individual threads into a whole. I ended up taking a two week introductory course in weaving in Harrisville, New Hampshire and immediately felt a connection to this way of making.”

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On a normal work day:

“Right now I am a designer for a local weaving mill where I am developing textiles for residential use. There is a lot of photoshop and writing directions for how I’d like the jacquard looms to weave the designs. That said, my after work and weekend studio practice is somewhat different.”

“I could be working on a variety of elements in the studio, depending on where I am in my process. Setting up a loom takes some time and whole studio days could be taken winding warps or threading the loom. For the past two years I’ve been using monofilament yarns which means lots of heddles to thread. Once my loom is set, the weaving process is either on of sampling or production where I am trying new ideas out or expanding upon previous work. Other days are more exploratory-activating forms I have woven through sculpting, recording, photographing, etc., or mocking up new ideas through 2D and 3D sketches.”

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On her experience at TAC:

“My experience at TAC has been positive for the development of a studio practice independent of an academic setting. I’ve been peripherally involved with the Textile Arts Center for a few years now and having a reason to be in the space on a more regular schedule has been enriching in finding a creative community. Having space at TAC has expanded the possibilities in my practice because there is access to so many tools. Being able to try something new on a whim is much easier in a space with so many resources. This has resulted in more experimentation with techniques such as adding foiling to my work.”

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On her work and materials:

“I have been making some weavings usually in tubular double cloth structure that I have come to see as cityscapes. At the start of my time at TAC, I made a cloth that was a contrast of heavy wool yarn and fine monofilament  yarn and I have continued to work with this balance in various forms. The monofilament is what is holding most of the cloth together, while the stronger wool yarns create a gestural form especially when manipulated off the loom. I’ve also been working a lot with light and the possibilities for it to interact with my weavings. I’ve especially been drawn to the shadow cast by forms when and how this shadow becomes a separate, almost holographic work when motion is introduced.”

“The formation of my conceptual work is an organic process where I am usually responding to my materials or a warp set up on the loom. Having an experimental warp is one of the most natural ways for me to develop concepts for new work. In this process I’ll have a few yards to weave where I’ll try different structure and filling yarns. Sometimes one idea will spark another and they’ll build like that.”

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On her influences:

“I’ve been finding inspiration in architecture and landscape; both urban and rural. The textures of an environment falling over the harder infrastructure of roadways, sidewalks even planned tree groves and dilapidated stone walls in the forests where I grew up. Moving through the world for extended periods of time also tends to put me in a perceptive place and I appreciate the different speeds this can come in – the long ambling walk, distance car travel and bicycling.”

“Recently I’ve really been drawn to the work of constructivist artists such as Alexander Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin and Varvara Stepanova. I’m inspired by their energetic abstraction and the various media such as architecture, graphic design and fashion. Also, I came across Rodchenko’s spatial construction sculptures shortly after developing some of my own and felt connected with them and their interaction with space via cast shadows.”

“Image making (and capturing/composing) have been a continually inspiring medium to me. Black and white film creates the focus on form that is attractive to me and I have been watching a lot of Maya Deren’s films because I love her use of movement, shadow and framing.”

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All photos by Rebekah Bassen

www.rbassen.com

www.instagram.com/r.bassen

Check out the video below to see Rebekah in action!

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