Get Messy (2018) Mop Cotton, Fabric Paint, Pine Frame. 21" x 44.5" x 2.5"
Informed by the history of abstraction in Painting, LAUREN SALAZAR turned to weaving as a method to create her own canvases and to explore the sculpture aspects of paintings. She is more driven by the raw material of canvas and frame than by image. But color, line and negative space still play starring role in both her framed works and her site-responsive installations. Lauren earned her BFA with a Painting Concentration from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her MFA in Studio Art from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2019, she was a Visiting Artist at the Textiles Department at Kent State University (Ohio) and was featured in the Emerging Voices section of Surface Design Magazine (Vol 42 Number 2). Her work was included in the group show Nuestras Realidad (2019) at Hooks Epstein Galleries (Houston), where she previously had two solo exhibitions: Ties That Bind (2018) and Togetherness Undone (2016). Lauren lives and works in Davidson, North Carolina.
I'll Braid (2018) Mop Cotton, Fabric Paint, Pine Frame. 38.5" x 23.5" x 2.5"
OtherPeoplesPixels: Your work can be discussed in relation to the disciplines of Weaving, Painting or Sculpture but each of these fields has different history of abstraction. Is one of those fields more influential in your history as an artist?
Lauren Salazar: Painting is the traditional fine art medium that has had the largest impact on my development and thought-process as an artist. I was a painting major when earning my BFA from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. I was drawn most strongly to abstract paintings, specifically those that acknowledge the grid. I found such inspiration in the confident and innovative formal decisions made be greats like Agnes Martin, Richard Diebenkorn, Eva Hessa, Richard Ryman and Frank Stella. Their works have a reverence for material usually explored through repeated and often meticulous formal decisions.
I quickly realized when making my own paintings that I am most drawn to the sculptural and woven aspects of painting. The frame is three-dimensional, something to be explored within and around. I use painting canvas as subject and line. Through weaving, I have the ability to incorporate hue and texture. I began and continue to make work that relates to the elements of abstract painting that I love through the use of woven and sculptural explorations.
Innards (2017) Mop Cotton, Thread, Fabric Paint, Pine Frame. 22.5" x 22.5" x 2.5"
OPP: The most important distinction for me between painting and weaving is that the painted image—whether abstract or representational—sits on the surface, whereas the woven image is the surface. Your Thoughts?
LS: I had a professor in undergrad tell me that it wasn’t enough to just make a frame and prime a canvas, that I needed to paint something on it. And every time I did paint on one of my stretched canvases, I thought “I liked it better before.” Not that I don’t like “the hand” in art work, quite the contrary in fact. I just have such an affection for raw material; I didn’t want to paint an image on top of the material beauty that was this primed and stretched canvas. When I started working with fiber, it felt like a way to get closer to the piece than I could with paint. Weaving became a way to physically build my own canvas.
So yes, weaving as surface and subject in one is an idea that I wholeheartedly embrace, including the historical and personal relationship I have with weaving as an art form unto itself. Weaving as abstraction and as a gridded system that forms a strong design and cloth. Weaving as historically women’s work. Weaving as something my Aunts and Great Grandmothers did in their spare time, an act that they thought little of, that even perhaps, little was thought of. I embrace it all, accept it all, and hopefully celebrate it and its complexities in my work.
Umbilical (2019) Cottolin, Cotton Twine, Mason Line, Pine Frame, Spray Paint. 24” x 23” x 2.5”
OPP: How do your framed works both respect and subvert the rectangle?
LS: It is my hope that my works first and foremost acknowledge the rectangle, the traditional frame, as an integral part of paintings. Many paintings simply use a frame as structural support for a painting on top. But I love an empty frame. I think the wood, its strength, simplicity, physical depth is something to be seen, delved into, dealt with. What does the side of a painting look like, the inside, the bottom and top? How is it attached to the frame? Frame can and should interact with the other formal decisions made in a piece. My pieces exist and are derived solely from the dimensions of the frame they inhabit. Even when my weavings spill out of a frame, it is still the frame to which they are attached. I don’t think frame or weaving, stretcher or canvas take precedence in my work. I more hope to reveal their utter codependence on one another.
Relation (2021) Cotton, Cottolin, Linen, Pine Frame, Spray Paint, Copper Nails. 43” x 36” x 2.5”
OPP: How much of your process is play and how much is plan? Tell us a bit about how an individual work evolves.
LS: It is a lot of planning, it is tedious and repetitive. For anyone who has ever wound a warp, dressed a loom, followed a draft. . . there is a lot of planning and precision to be had. But I can honestly say that as clearly as I can imagine any work of mine turning out, never has one actually ended up the way I initially envisioned it would, and therein lies the play.
All of my pieces start with the frame. Even in the installations, the room or space acts as the frame. I then have the dimensions I need to work within and can decide the size and type of weaving I want to inhabit that space. Sometimes I want the weaving to be larger than the frame with the ability to wrap around it or hang over it. Other times I make smaller weavings that interact with other weavings running in different directions. Sometimes I leave both warp and weft threads unbound, so that I can then install these loose-hanging threads within the frame or room in a variety of ways.
Heaven Couldn't Wait IV You (2016) Handwoven Cotton, Maple Frame, Paint. 35" x 35" x 2"
I typically choose simple weaving patterns—traditional ones like tabby, lace, twills, overshot—that you can often see in many household textiles. And I use an assortment of fibers from Swedish cottolin, to hardware twine, to butchers twine, to wool, typically with a stronger focus on hue and texture than on the type of fiber itself.
Once the weavings are woven/canvases finished, I then figure out how to best bring them to life on the frame. I drill holes, manipulate the wood and thread the many, many loose weaving ends in order to attach the weavings to the frames. This is how the weavings exist on all sides and locations of the work. This tedious process is a constant grind, but throughout I find myself tweaking my initial idea for a piece—changing colors, changing layout, turning over, undoing and redoing. So while weaving as a practice is incredibly planned, I certainly find room in all of my work for play, failure and surprises.
No More I Love Yous (2013) Cottolin. Dimensions Variable.
OPP: You mentioned the installations. What do they do that the small, framed works can’t and vice versa?
LS: The installations are more of an homage to weaving whereas the framed pieces fall easier into a painting dialogue. In a large space, it is easy to convey the complexities, beauty and strength I find in even the simplest of weavings. I take a modest, everyday weaving, the size of a dishcloth or smaller, and I leave many yards of unwoven warp threads loose to be installed in large, tall and overarching spaces. The pieces reveal that even in small cloths, there are hundreds of threads. There is work, effort, design, artistry. Look at the magic within this practice, within this craft, amongst the women who traditionally have woven. The process of the installations requires a lot of planning, a lot of thread, a quick weave, and then a couple of sleepless days to install. Thread by thread, I walk each one across the span of the room from weaving to wall to create installations that are bigger than the viewer. For example, [insert title and year] was a 15 foot arch made of thread that viewers could stand beneath and look up at. In the installations, the viewers can exist within the frame, whereas the framed pieces which are viewed more traditionally from the outside.
To see more of Lauren's work, please visit www.laurenlsalazar.com.