Work In Progress: Karla Belinda Amezcua

Karla Belinda Amezcua, our Work in Progress resident for the month of January, is one busy artist. Karla runs two textile businesses based in Mexico City, Taller Textil Dos Coyotes and Lavanda, and her practices include weaving, crochet, felting, natural dyeing, and more. Taller Textil Dos Coyotes is her personal studio practice, and Lavanda is a project that takes surplus fabric scraps from tee shirt factories and transforms them into rugs, baskets and other housewares. Though her projects are diverse, all of Karla’s pursuits are infused with a commitment to local materials, and to creating products that connect people with a sense of place. I met up with her at her installation at our Manhattan studio, to learn more about her work and her process.

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Soft sculpture by Karla Belinda Amezcua, currently on view at TAC Manhattan

On her soft sculpture installation: “I do these kinds of nests with organic materials like fibers and wood and the things you can find in the street, but when I was thinking about bringing those materials and pieces to the United States I couldn’t because is is very difficult to bring the plants and the organic things. I was thinking what can I use to express myself, so I chose these colorful yarns. I found [these branches] in Manhattan.”

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Mexican and Merino wools

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Karla’s award-winning felted tapestry

On working with Mexican wool: “I was trying to find something that you can do with the material that we have. The Mexican industry of wool is dead, and the people that have the sheep don’t receive money for their work, so I’ve been trying to [create] a bridge. This is why this [tapestry] looks like stones, because the material is not soft, like this [Merino wool], it’s like cotton, like the sky, and [the Mexican wool] is more organic but it’s rough.”

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Skeins of cotton strips for Lavanda products

On sourcing materials for Lavanda: “It’s like upcycling. In Mexico there are lots of factories of fabrics, t-shirts, and it’s so colorful. We always work with what the fashion industry is making. The people want color, every time. And we buy this [surplus fabric from the factories] so it’s like something that they have extra, but they can’t find a use for these materials, so they sell, and we buy. You buy a bag with all the thread tangled. We paid a person to detangle the threads and make this kind of ball that you can use to knit. We make rugs, baskets, all of it’s this material. We are proposing something different to do with this.”

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Close-up of a Lavanda rug

On Lavanda products: “We also want to work more with other colors, more soft, but the material that we have is this, so I think it’s a challenge to make contemporary designs with these colors. So, we try to use the color like a plus, like something good. Also with the wool, we’re trying to use what we have and make something that is a good design. Because in part, the Merino wool is very expensive. And you can use it, but I think it’s also interesting to use the things that you have in your atmosphere, in your neighborhood.”

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Natural dye samples

On contemporary textile art in Mexico: “In Mexico, the textiles are not valued, but in the last five years, there’s kind of a movement about textiles. Every year there are more and more people that are dedicated to textiles and design and art. Textiles talk about your culture and your roots and your traditions and the people. It’s easy to be close to a design, something useful, and then I think the path is going to be to go from the design and then to the root. There are Mexicans that are dedicated to textiles, but there aren’t too many. I think it’s gonna be more. I think it’s like a seed. It’s something growing.”

Karla will be teaching a free workshop on Saturday, January 30th from 2:00 – 5:00 pm, on making soft yarn sculptures like the one she installed in the TAC studio. Learn more and sign up here, or just come by the TAC studio in Manhattan during open hours to see her beautiful work!

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