Fan Mail: Interview with Amy Revier

Each month, DailyServing selects two artists to be featured in our Fan Mail series.  If you would like to be considered, please submit to a link to your website with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line.  Keep checking the site – you could be the next artist featured!

For this edition of Fan Mail, Austin, TX based artist Amy Revier has been chosen from a group of worthy submissions to discuss the process and ideas that fuel her art practice.  With an imminent move to London on the horizon, Revier also fills us in on what’s next.

Woolly Headed, image courtesy the artist.

Kelly Nosari:
Textiles, significantly wools, and the process of weaving are important elements of your practice and have potential feminist implications.  In performance work such as Woolly Headed and Yolk Yoke, you wrap and confine your body in woven textile.  Your Woven Drawing series relieves woven textiles of their utilitarian nature, giving them new creative life as drawing comprised of texture and color.  Please talk about your work in this medium and the ideas that inform it.

Amy Revier:
I became interested in textiles through weaving.  The practice of weaving has such a dense relationship with ritual and placing oneself into a kind of solitary, psychological space.  Wool is a reference to that density – and it became a tool for hibernation in my performance work. I was also using wool to reference something wild and very animal. The head-wrapping performances would often become stiflingly hot and disorienting. I wanted them to waiver at that point just before something loses control, blows apart, and becomes lost. Performance was a way to become more intimate with the material – to dig into its structure and, while doing so, work in a very concentrated, obsessive manner, as weaving often demands.

The most recent work in textiles step away from performance and sit closer to drawing and painting. While living in Iceland, one of the projects I started was making portable woven drawings on handmade looms. It was during the dark winter months and making those drawings were like little daily rituals. They accumulated time, and also acted as parallels to text I was reading on otherworldly places – Anne Carson’s The Autobiography of Red, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics.

Woven Drawings, image courtesy the artist.

Textiles used in the recent sculptural, body-board work are rolled to resemble rescue blankets or camping equipment.  I was interested in taking what is usually a very durable, non-descript blanket and making it handwoven in the most meticulous way (hand spinning the yarn, using paper and thin steel as warp and weft). I’m also beginning to explore the idea of a body-board unit (such as Riding on the Back of Another) as an object for ceremony more than rescue – for navigating unknown or mythical territories.

KN: Looking at a work like Riding on the Back of Another or Blackfog one can’t help but recall The Pack (1969) by Joseph Beuys.  Is Beuys a source of inspiration?

AR: Beuys’ work has definitely been a reference for me – specifically in the way he weaves myth, ritual, performance, and repetitive action or objects together.  I would also say I had a strong reaction to how he places architecture and textile together.  When I first saw Beuys’ work I thought of tribal cradleboards, which was my direct reference for [my earliest board work] Blackfog.

Riding on the Back of Another, image courtesy the artist.

KN: Your series A Quiet Root May Know How to Holler depicts explosive clouds of smoke emanating from prams in otherwise quiet and empty urban settings.  Please tell us about this recent series.

AR: This series is a project that came together while in Iceland.  While on walks I quickly began to notice that prams are left outside with infants in them, while the parents go for coffee, groceries, shop, or socialize.  I found it linked to my research on the tribal cradleboards. Both cultures use an apparatus to keep the infant safe and secure while they gather food, or in the modernized Icelandic version, go for coffee and drinks. I made a daily habit of photographing these prams with infants in them, seemingly abandoned. The collaged image of the volcanic ash plumes came much later, after I had time to experience and understand the political, geological, and economic upheavals.  The ash cloud images are from Google, and are mostly of the Icelandic volcanoes that occurred in March-April 2010. But it was the apparatus that interested me most, and the fact that it became a metaphor for Iceland’s situation as a whole.  It contained something very alive and active, wild but slumbering – similar characteristics of volcanoes, and also of the unforeseen economic corruptions that caused Iceland’s devastating 2008 financial collapse.

KN: What are you working on at the moment?

AR: Currently I’m building a garment collection in collaboration with artist Natalie Northrup. Everything is built from the ground up – we’re weaving and quilting sculptural drawings, then slowly arranging the pieces together to form garments.  It’s a project that forms intersections between sculpture, drawing and painting, performance, and fashion. This first collection will be comprised of roughly fifteen pieces, installed in a space that allows them to waiver ambiguously between garment and sculpture.

I am also making woven drawings and new sculpture for an upcoming group show at Champion Contemporary in Austin, TX.

A Quiet Root May Know How to Holler, image courtesy the artist.

KN: Can you offer one piece of advice for emerging artists?

AR: I think about this when making work… a line from Eileen Myles in The Importance of Being Iceland:

One thing I was thinking about imperfection is that it’s exactly enough. It’s the beginning of something.