Work In Progress: Diana Weymar

During the month of January, we have had the pleasure of hosting Diana Weymar as our Work In Progress (WIP) artist here at TAC. During her time here, she has been busy continuing to work on a set of textile objects stitched with images of humanitarian crises. With the state of our current world, it is fitting to see an artist focus on “hard to see” images that have been circulating our media. I had the pleasure of chatting with Diana about how textile art can help us slow down the processing of this information.

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On her entry into the textile world:

“I inherited boxes of antique textiles and bedsheets from my maternal grandparents. At the same time I was processing a collection of childhood photographs and the writing of John McPhee. I was also taking a course at Vancouver Island School of Art called “Art and the Language of Craft” with Danielle Hogan. It all came together by hand – literally – and I started stitching the writing and stories by focusing on the details that spoke to me. It was a very organic process. It was an intimate connection to the material.”

On what materials and techniques she uses: 

“I love to use materials that have already been used for another purpose. I consider my work to be collaborative except that the other maker is unknown, gone. I always feel an absence when working with “memory” materials. My work is made up of lines. I rarely use other stitches and I am always thinking of ways to cover the space, to move from point to point.”

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On what a typical work day looks like:

“I listen when I work. Always. Podcasts, music, NPR. I am especially interested in other artists who focus on works. I’m interested in anyone who is interested in language. I listen to On Being. I often carve out a period of time for my work, set an alarm so I know when to stop and move on to another activity, and then I just live in the work. I drink tea, stretch, and check my email on the hour if needed. I like to work in front of windows. I’ve lived in Victoria, BC for much of the past nine years and the views there are spectacular. In my studio in Victoria, I watched the deer in the front yard and a Blue Heron make a nest in a tree. Right now, at TAC, I watch the traffic on West 8th outside my window. There is a party store somewhere nearby because people after walk by with bouquets of balloons and it’s very joyful. Like a ’50s musical. A great contrast to all the black SUVs and people in dark clothing. A practice of being small, thinking small, like stitching makes me appreciate other forms of beauty that pass in front of us. How are things made? Who made them? How? Stitching can be very stress relieving for people and it’s a luxury to work with my hands in this way.”

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On what her work represents:

“I have been an artist with Build Peace in Nicosia and in Zurich. I focus simply on offering images and text that we find in newspapers, social media, and slow down our processing. I am especially drawn to the way we sensationalize images but then turn away from issues. I am always thinking about children. I am drawn to them. I try to work with images that represent our common humanity, the tragic in the midst of the mundane. Most of all, I want to connect long enough to think about how to be more compassionate, how to put our lives in perspective. And I don’t have all the answers – or any – I am working through them by making this work.”

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On the impact of textile art in our current world:

“The residency I did in Princeton involved close to 200 participants who all stitched a fabric page and donated it back to the community collection. I think this speaks for itself. We are hungry for compassion and connection. And the past. We want to make things. It’s not unlike making music. There is something to share and appreciate about a stitched page that doesn’t reach us in the same way as Facebook post.”

On the usefulness of social media:

“I’m grateful that I can share my work with a wide audience. With strangers all over the world. Our work is hard and it’s hard to share and exhibit. We need to share more art and less advertising.”

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On what the future holds:

“I have a lot of goals. Mostly I want to continue to balance community-based projects, commissions, and the issues I explore in my studio work. I live away from three of my children and I am always thinking about them – I think this is a long story that I am telling them. And I hope the future allows me to continue doing that.”

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All photos by Stephanie McGovern. 

Visit Diana’s studio installation for Work In Progress from January 1st-31st, and join us on Saturday, January 28th for Talking Thread and Subversive Stitching: A Conversation with Diana Weymar. You can also stay up to date with Diana and her future work through InstagramFacebook, and her website!

Want to read more articles about Diana and her work?

http://artscouncilofprinceton.org/2016/10/interwoven-stories/

https://paw.princeton.edu/article/textile-artist-diana-weymar-91-brings-her-craft-princeton

https://gynocraticartgallery.com/artists/embelished-embroidery/

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/new-jersey/92838-fiber-artist-creates-interwoven-stories-with-needle-and-thread

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