“At least once in life, it’s good to start at zero.” –Anni Albers
I like a good quote, but I think text is too often trivialized in art these days. So it’s kind of unusual for me to use a quotation directly in something I do. This piece contains a quote from the artist and weaver Anni Albers, and is inspired by her work. Like my last textile project, it is two-sided and would also look good suspended from the ceiling, but I’ll have to content myself with turning it occasionally for different views.
Albers liked visual language, but in a symbolic calligraphic sense. She was intrigued by the Incan quipu, which recorded information through knots. She liked pictograms, another visual communicator which is not text.
Many of Albers’ weavings created in the 1950’s and 1960’s have titles with language references, but the text they contain is abstract, often with thread laid over the background weave.
I took a simple, natural cotton cowl woven by Kira Silver, which I got on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/wovenbythebaker), and first embroidered in varying sizes the quote that began this post, an idea Albers expressed in various ways many times. She is referring particularly to the time when she and her husband Josef were forced to leave the Bauhaus and Germany after the rise of Hitler. They came to the United States and started completely over at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.
But the idea has a larger resonance for me: every day we have an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to choose differently. Every day we look at that blank paper (or computer screen), the unanswered question, the empty pot on the stove. Life always, continuously, gives us zero.
In homage to Anni, I took her quote and embroidered a warp and weft over it with running stitch to turn the writing back into abstraction, using her favored palette of neutral colors.
Back to zero.