IRREVERSIBLE 10 Anniversary exhibition
Zhou B Art Center, Chicago May 2016
all images courtesy Natasha Kertes Photography
Sky Carter is a Sydney based fibre artist who has spent most of her life experimenting, exploring and dabbling with various creative mediums. Sky says; “I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I spent a lot of time trying different things, I was a bit lost and I always seem to be searching for the next evolution point”. She recently found her passion in free-form weaving which she now pursues full-time at her studio in the May Street Artist Studios, a thriving artist community.
Over the next few weeks guest blogger Sky Carter takes us through her journey from Sydney to Chicago. Here are words:
Hello Beautiful People,
A few short months ago I received a message on Instagram. Not so much a message as a comment on one of my posts…’what you doing this summer Sky?’. The message was from Irreversible founder (and all round amazing talent) Noor Blazekovic. She had been following my woven work through this platform for a while and always left a trail of enthusiastic and positive comments (I would soon learn that this woman was the personification of enthusiasm and positivity!).
I responded by emailing her and explaining that I was, in fact, in Australia, therefore coming into our winter, and I let her know what my plans were for the next few months. Before I knew it Noor had flipped those plans on their head and within a couple of weeks I had booked a ticket to Chicago to take part in the 10 year celebration of Irreversible. There was no way I was going to say anything but YES to this most awesome invitation.
I am a fibre artist who uses mostly weaving as my avenue for expression and I was tasked with making ‘something big’. It was heads down designing a piece for the exhibition, deciding which loom to use, finessing a concept and gathering materials. I needed A LOT of materials as the work was going to be 10 meters for ten years (that’s 33 feet). Looking back on that process and the creation of the work is somewhat of a blur. Let’s just say I chained myself to the loom, shut my studio door and became very antisocial. But of course it’s not that simple….. No great work is created with out the tears, tantrums, excessive ruminations, existential crisis and physical pain. So yeah, there was all that stuff going on (if you watched my kickstarter video you would have seen a pale drawn shadow attempting to promote her adventure! Luckily people saw past the ghost and my campaign was a great success, enabling me to get to Chicago).
So, to cut a long story short, I was asked and I said yes. This was despite the millions of questions and the many unknowns. The uncertainty and the moments of self consciousness about how I and my work would be received. The logistical issues of accommodation for a six week stay and organising a weaving residency at the Chicago Weaving School (I mean why go all that way and not squeeze out every ounce of opportunity, am I right!). Not to mention how was I going to sit on a plane for 18 hours! I listened to my gut, I said ‘yes’ and I made it happen.
In my next post read about my Chicago arrival and the lead up to (and prep for) the opening night.
10 Meter woven cloth using wire, yarn and fabric.
In this personal work Sky Carter has woven a length of cloth that represents a culmination of where she has been up until this point and implies her continuing and ongoing path. The central theme of the work is loss and letting go. In preparing for this work the artist asked people to contribute to this woven piece by donating fabric/clothing/cloth that represents a powerful connection to an experience or person. Interestingly, she found many people interpreted the request as donating something that belonged to a loved one that had passed on. In this context Sky was able to observe the struggle that people had in sourcing something that they were able to part with. In some instances she observed that people were not able to contribute at all, it was too painful to ʻlet goʼ.
Through this Sky realised the process mirrored her own personal struggle in experiencing grief and dealing with loss. The artist realised what she was actually asking of people was to let go of something that they had great sentimental attachment to and then allowing it to be cut up or deconstructed and woven into a large work, potentially losing its potency as an individual item. The artist realised this was a huge thing to ask of someone and during the process of creating this work Sky had to confront the potential pain she may be causing by unfairly asking the donors to address personal issues they may not be ready to explore. This was an intense exploration for the artist and raised many questions surrounding how loss sits within her and the people around her. Being part of an artist community she also received lots of artistʼs rags as donations. These were pretty, speckled and splashed with paint and in many cases these ʻragsʼ were also hard for the artist to part with. This is due to the fact they represented the very intimate and personal nature of the creative process and their connection to their art practices. Once again the process of ʻletting goʼ was being demonstrated and experienced.
The work is long and comparatively narrow which is suggestive of the path we take and our passage through life. The technique of weaving is about linking and connecting everything together and in this work Sky has connected her own personal and meaningful elements with those of many others. Including a large section which is representational of her marriage and connection to her husband. The middle section of the work is ruched and gathered and in being blue has a watery effect. In the artistʼs mind water relates to emotions and this further reinforces the underlying meaning of the piece. Finally Sky believes objects and items resonate power through their history and the meanings that we attribute to them. In creating this woven work she hopes she has achieve a piece surrounding the common human experience of ʻlossʼ and ʻletting goʼ that viewers can relate to.
left to right: Alejandro Mendoza, Sky Carter, Sergio gomez, Noor blazekovic, Marcel Querales
What Weaving Means
WEAVING THROUGH THE AGES*
Myth has it that Our Grandmother the Moon, the goddess Ixchel, taught the first woman how to weave at the beginning of time. Since then, Maya mothers have taught their daughters, from generation to generation uninterruptedly for three thousand years, how to wrap themselves around the loom and produce exquisite cloth.
In addition to its important religious and social aspects, historically weaving has been central to indigenous women’s economic contribution to their households. In a traditional Maya context, when a girl is born, the midwife presents her with the different instruments of weaving one by one and she says,
Well then, little girl,
This will be your hand
This will be your foot
Here is your work
With this, you’ll look for your food,
Don’t take the evil path,
When you grow up
Only with these will you work
With your hand
With your foot
Weaving is impregnated with spiritual elements. Girls begin learning the long and difficult process of weaving when they are eight or nine years old by watching their mothers and older sisters. Around the age of 11 they make their first pieces of cloth and take them to the feet of the patron saint of weaving, Santa Rosa, in Chamula’s Church. They go there often with their mothers to pray to the saint that she might grant them the art of weaving.
Please lend me the ten toes of your feet
The ten fingers of your hands,
Engrave heavily on my mind
Engrave heavily on my heart
How to use the three points of your bobbin
How to use the three points of your loom
The three points of your spindle
The three points of your basket
Please, I beg you,
Put (the skill) in my foot
In my hand
Please, Holy Mother,
Please, Sacred Mother.
Every day we interact with a piece that holds memories and value to us, each containing its own history because of the labor, care and time, loaded on each medium, this exhibition holds a unique level of intention and weight, an intimate declaration that explore togetherness and attachment. I truly believe in the work of these artists, and the important role they play widening means to a cultural exchange enriching our lives profoundly.
Noor Blazekovic, founder
IRREVERSIBLE PROJECTS & Magazine