Furniture and accessories designer Tanya Aguiñiga often finds herself at a crossroad between fine arts and craft and between feminine and masculine, but also between the functional and purely aesthetic. It’s this latter part that Aguiñiga explores in Crossing the Line: A Space by Tanya Aguiñiga at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, California.
For the exhibit, Aguiñiga created a spontaneous, site-specific structure made of criss-crossed yarn with floating pieces that are intersected with furniture made for the exhibit. The work probes boundaries and suspension, resulting in a quasi-cave where museum visitors can seek a reprieve, with a mix of both the functional and the aesthetic.
Growing up on the US/Mexico border, Aguiñiga was drawn to the beauty of the “unplanned, the creation of environment using non-traditional techniques and finding inspiration in changing perspectives.”
In a recent visit to Chiapas, Aguiñiga worked with artisans and learned back-strap weaving and commented, “I’m excited about weaving with alternative structures without the traditional weaving loom or other structure.” For the exhibit, the room’s architecture supplies the tension to the weaving in place.
As a child, Aguiñiga was always attracted to craft, but was never comfortable in creating purely artistic pieces without a functional component to them. “It made the most sense for to make fine art that is also functional. So I began with furniture design, but became interested in experimenting with textiles.” In the male-dominated furniture industry, Aguiñiga was fortunate to have been able to study furniture design with female department heads in both undergraduate and graduate schools. Interested in incorporating a feminine touch to her designs, Aguiñiga started to play around with textiles and weaving.
Her exploration with textiles, in particular felt, lead to transforming the generic industrial folding chairs, as well as Eames chairs, with a seamless hand-felted coating in variety of vivid colors. The idea behind the felt chairs, Aguiñiga explained in an interview with LAWeekly was to “transform the folding chairs into the opposite of what they are. You know — no longer cold, no longer uninviting, no longer mass-produced.”
Admitting that she is obsessed with yarn and wool, Aguiñiga is always on the lookout for for wool that provides warmth, depth, and texture, but that also has a story of where that yarn came from and how it was produced.
These experiments with design and textiles was garnered several grants, including the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship as a USA Target Fellow in the field of Arts and Crafts, as well as the attention of international museums and publications.
Maryna Hrushetska, former Director of the Craft and Folk Art Museum says, “Tanya wonderfully echoes CAFM’s mission. She weaves deep respect for tradition and materials into a contemporary frame while creating high quality, handmade work. I believe in ethos of “maker” instills her work with authenticity and warmth.”
For more information about Tanya Aguiñiga, please visit www.aguinigadesign.com.
Crossing the Line: A Space by Tanya Aguiñiga will be on view until May 8, 2011. For more information, museum hours and address, please visit www.cafm.org