SUBMITTED BY GWENSAMUELS
The core foundation of my artwork is my photography. I began taking photographs while traveling several years ago, to record the various places that I visited and the many patterns that I came across. I have always been fascinated with imagery that contains repetitive patterns. My background in textile design and experience with detailed handwork helped set the stage for my current work.
As I took more photographs, I naturally began framing the angles in my mind’s eye and visualizing the images in repeat pattern. This intimate internal dialogue has proven to be the first step in my creative process. Although I never considered myself a photographer, the camera soon became an important new resource for my imagery. With a continuous drive to create new work, my (iPhone) camera is in near constant use, as the arsenal of digital images on my computer ever expands.
Once I have chosen the patterns to work with, I create composite sheets of reformatted imagery that I print on transparency paper, cut up, sort and then tape together into new compositions. The final part of my process is hand stitching all the pieces together but first, I poke holes in the plastic that will serve as the trail map for my needle and thread to follow. Once the holes are in place, I begin the meditative progression of stitching, tying, and knotting. I always allow the ends of each thread to hang free; I am drawn to the juxtaposition between the smooth plastic surface and the irregular puckering and hanging thread that meander across the pieces.
I take a minimalist approach to hanging the pieces, using only push pins. This allow the pieces to sit away from the wall, inviting light and shadow to create a 3-dimensional dynamic against the wall that breathes new life into the pieces.
Often the motivation behind my work comes from my life. One theme that has recurred for me is the desire to create dresses in various forms. I am intrigued by the way that fashion and textile define the body. Perhaps this emanates from my childhood and the time spent playing “dress up” with my mother. Dresses have become an important symbol in both my life and work. Two years ago, my daughter got married and the experience of helping her find the perfect wedding dress inspired me to create my own take on a life size wedding dress. When my son and daughter-in-law had their first child, I made a series of tutus, reminiscent of ballet class as a child. Sometimes a simple pattern intrigues me; a chain link fence in downtown LA was used to create a dress called “Unchained.” The inspirations for my dresses pop up at various times in my life and seem to be my most popular works and most satisfying to create.
I am always most excited about what I am working on now- But then I never know what’s coming next and how it will be revealed.