In July we are featuring weavings and paintings by Seattle artist Hannah Ruth Levi, who we are lucky enough to also have as our event coordinator at Velouria. Stop by to see the show (up through the end of July 2016) and check out our interview with her below about process and where she finds inspiration. We, personally, can't wait to have a little extra time to delve into the artists' work that she's currently into. Enjoy!
Velouria: What attracted you to fiber arts/how did you find your way to this work?
Hannah Ruth Levi: My Mom was great at sewing and gave me my own sewing machine when I was small. I was never very good at it but when I was a freshman in college I happened upon fabric dyeing and then "Intro to Structure" which turned out to be weaving. Weaving was the first time I felt challenged. It's hard to remember what I was drawn to originally - mostly I remember how it drove me crazy. Now I like the meticulous repetitive actions, the small rituals and being a part of something that dates back tens of thousands of years.
V: Weaving requires, in some sense, a little planning since one must work from one end to the other--how do you plan out your pieces and how much do they depart from the original plan as you weave?
HRL: Weaving as a medium is very calculated, and admittedly I'm not the best planner.
There are three components of a weaving that have to be decided before I even touch the loom - the length of the entire weaving, the width, and how many threads per inch. Usually that is where my planning ends, especially with dyed warps. My dyed weavings are abstract, organic and the end result is somewhat of a surprise. These weavings are technically a "warp-faced" fabric, meaning the vertical threads dominate visually while the horizontal or weft threads are mostly hidden. Weaving these is pretty straight forward, the visual elements are already determined before the loom is dressed.
My tapestries are a different story, those are "weft-faced" which is the exact opposite ofmy dyed weaving. With these the imagery is more structural, building an image one thread at a time. For these the final product is much closer to the original sketch, but like I said I'm a bad planner so much of the time I just go for it. I have an idea of colors or textures, I'm developing my own visual vocabulary built on geometric shapes and symbols. Many of my tapestries now are about building compositions made up of these shapes.
V: What inspired this current collection?
HRL: This current collection of weavings is a further exploration of dyed/bleached warps, based on traditional Ikat techniques. These weavings are about the process, the ways I tie the threads create the pattern. The bleach lifts different colors at different rates so the original navy became a dusty rose. The surface is uniform and flat but I wanted to see how much texture I could achieve. I wanted to get weird.
V: Where do you look for inspiration in general?
HRL: I try to shy away from Internet Inspiration, I find that much of the time surfing the web induces more stress than productivity. I guess I try to find inspiration in what is around me, by existing in spaces that make me feel good.
V: Do you listen to music or podcasts while you work? If so, What do you listen to?
HRL: My studio is on Whidbey Island and when I work I'm there alone without internet or phone service so unless I want to talk to myself for days on end I need some sort of media company. Depending on my mood or what I have available I'll listen to podcasts or have TV shows playing in the background. My favorite podcasts include: Reply All, The Heart, Criminal, The Moth, This American Life, Planet Money, Fresh Air, Embedded, and various true crime. As far as TV it truly depends on my mood, but I consume a lot of junk since there is a lot of it and doesn't require my full attention.
V: Who's work do you find most inspiring right now--both locally and more broadly?
HRL: Right now I'm inspired by the work of locals like Kelly Bjork, Joe Rudko, Kimberly Trowbridge, Neon Saltwater, the band Crater, Sara Long, Rachel Ravitch, Kate Wallich. There are too many to name.
More broadly I'm really into weavers: Meghan Shimek, New Friends, Hannah Waldron, Hermine Van Dijck, Erin M. Riley, the Bauhaus ladies (namely Anni Albers and Gunta Stolzl), Gee's Bend Quilts, David Hockney, Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Kindah Khalidy.