Yellow Stripes, Red Stripes, 2011

hand-dyed, hand-painted linen, hemp, silk, aloo, paper, rayon, cotton, Leno weave and weft brocade, 28 inches by 32 inches by 2 inches

MORGAN CLIFFORD

Stillwater, MN
morganclifford.com

I started weaving when I was a teenager in order to create distance from my father. He was a real Renaissance man; he loved science, art, music, history, theatre and food, and you’d think that having a father like that would be a complete blessing. As a kid, growing up in Yonkers, NY, I had to hide my art projects and work on them late at night because he always wanted to get involved with them and do them together. That was not my way. His main loves were painting and drawing. I eventually discovered weaving and latched on to it because it was all mine. He eventually also began to weave but by then I’d flown the nest to attend college in Wisconsin.

Put me in most modern fabric stores and I’m completely unmoved, but dangle in front of me some ancient rag made of handspun, hand-woven materials and I’m right there. I am endlessly fascinated by what happens when threads are crisscrossed and grids and squares are created. The compositional devices of checks, checkerboards, and lattices are natural extensions of the woven structure itself, so I use them in my work. Most recently, I have been exploring grids via gauze-weave structures as the “nets” in which small geometric patterns can float across the surface.

Color is critical. I work the hardest at animating the layers of dyes and paints on the warp, weft, and inlays I create. I have a strong tactile and visual response to the linen, silk, hemp, paper and handspun nettles (“aloo” from Nepal) that I work with. A textile that glows because of beautiful colors and patinas doesn’t need a complex composition. Subtle color combinations, simple compositions and beautiful materials are enough.