Site-specific installation using technology to revive an artisanal practice
Artist-in-Residence, Lacoste, France 2017
In the summer of 2017, I traveled to Lacoste, France as an Artist-in-Residence through the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Alumni Ambassadorship program. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Lacoste has a long history with block printed textiles, particularly a type called “Les Indiennes.” Originating in India, these textiles were imported in the 17th century and became wildly popular, which prompted local manufacturers to pick up the technique. The fabrics became readily available in markets (and still are), often seen in the form of household furnishings. With time and the arrival of industrialization, the traditional, laborious process was inevitably replaced by more mechanized production. My goal was to reinterpret and reproduce these fabrics using technology to facilitate the process, while still capturing the singularity and tactility associated with handwork and maintaining the artisanal nature of the originals.
My project involved printing large-scale patterns on 18 yards of fabric using a combination of hand- and laser-cut blocks. The laser cutting process allowed me to manipulate both the positive and negative components of the image, thereby utilizing the entire block and not wasting any part. At the same time, I carved parts of the pattern by hand in order to add my own detailing and create a truly dialogic hand-and-machine process.
The final installation created a canopy down the narrow streets of the village. The result was a site-specific installation in the vein of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. By bringing textiles that are traditionally seen inside, outside, I sought to trigger a paradigm shift—now, these pieces could interact with the surrounding landscape, the geographic fabric from which they came. Ultimately, I wanted my work to demonstrate the potential of modern technology to honor and celebrate a centuries-old artisanal practice, rather than supplant it.