A Post-Grad Contemplation by Mellissa Wong, ACAD PDF  | Print |  E-mail

m. Wong Reception 

Reception (2010), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoint lace, 54 x 39 cm 

I live with my sister, who is also an artist. We currently have two looms crowding our living room. When weaving, I am sandwiched between my loom and a bookcase, and use a fork as a beater. Working under these circumstances makes me more appreciative of what I had access to during my four years at the Alberta College of Art + Design. With no more ample studio space, access to specialized equipment, and deadlines to increase my productivity, I have been and am still learning to adjust to life after graduation.

M Wong Spill

 Spill and Mend (2010), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoin​t lace, 42 x 80 cm

What keep me going are my innate desire to create, and my affinity for the contemplative processes of weaving and stitching. When weaving tapestries, I enjoy seeing the textile slowly build, watching as individual strands of yarn are interwoven to create defined shapes or painterly gradients. It is through this controlled process that I become intimately connected with the work. My fingers work around each thread, and I watch as each strand takes a place in the whole.

detail Spill and mend

Spill and Mend (2010), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoin​t lace, 42 x 80 cm Detail

It wasn’t until ACAD that I was drawn to working in textiles. After seeing my sister graduate from the Fibre program, I thought I should take an elective in my first year. I enjoyed learning a variety of processes, and decided to take more courses in my second year. After a few more, I knew I would major in Fibre. I realized that Fibre offered me a language of working that could best communicate the ideas I wanted to explore.

M Wong Circumintervevention
Circuminte​rvention (2011), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoin​t lace

Two experiences at ACAD stand out for me. The first was an introductory tapestry course with Jane Kidd. By the second sample, I knew I loved the process. All I wanted to do was work on tapestry. During the course, we were introduced to many different tapestry weavers, whose technical abilities and evocative imagery allowed me to see the possibilities of the medium. The second was a one-day workshop with visiting artist, Dorie Millerson. After hearing her artist talk, I was excited to try the process of needlepoint lace. She taught us the basics of lacemaking, including a few different stitches. I went home and spent the entire long-weekend working on a needlepoint lace project for a drawing class. Since learning tapestry and needlepoint lacemaking, I have continued to work with both processes, and find ways to combine the two. 

  M wong detail 1

Circuminte​rvention (2011), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoin​t lace. Deatil

Over the past year, I have been exploring my interest in the human body as metaphor for human experience through the processes of tapestry weaving and lacemaking. The intricacy of the woven textile is akin to the human body with its fibres of muscle and tissue. When approached from a medical perspective, the similarities between textile and body are even greater. The textile wears over time, yet is capable of being mended, much like the body is cut, patched and stitched. Both practices take discipline. Focus, skill, and tacit knowledge are required for both.

 In my latest tapestry work, Circumintervention, I challenged the tradition of tapestry, and my own ability in working with the process. This sculptural piece and installation investigates the relationship between textile and body with a specific focus on the internal body. The tapestry component is based off of laparoscopic images of the intestine. A fleeting image captured by modern technology is translated into a material object through a time-intensive, historic process. The resulting image is both visceral and luxurious. By taking the time to translate this image into tapestry, I am able to become more familiar with the foreign and unseen parts of the body – a visual exploration of the body is made tangible.

detail 2

Circuminte​rvention (2011), woven tapestry with cotton needlepoin​t lace. deatil

Now that I am finished my undergraduate studies, I am continuing to work with similar themes, and planning to further experiment with tapestry as a sculptural medium. On my loom now is another sculptural tapestry work that will also incorporate needlepoint lace. This is a fourth work planned for an upcoming show at ACAD’s Marion Nicoll Gallery. I am not too sure where the next four years will lead, but for now I will keep weaving, and hope that I get a real tapestry beater soon. 

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