structural rules of weaving…
“original hardwoods is an exploration of camouflaging, value, and visibility. The woven pattern imitates wood grain while adhering to the structural rules of weaving. I draw influence from colonial overshot, a pattern style associated with homespun coverlets of the 18th and 19th centuries. I consider the way we value original hardwood floors in homes for their authenticity and quality and compare this with the cultural value of handwoven textiles. I grew up working class in a 100 year old colonial house that my dad renovated himself. Every year, my mom would refinish our original hardwood floors, her way of maintaining beauty and couth in our otherwise under-construction house. Plywood scraps taken home by my father lived in our backyard and basement, chipped and waterlogged. This dichotomy in materiality ingrained both the aesthetic and economic associations of the many types of wood I lived with.
Both woven cloth and wood in all forms have fluctuated in visibility and value throughout history; the two serve as raw materials, created to be formed into something else. Framing materials as tools reveals similarities in their locations in labor limbo – neither a material nor a tool is considered functional until it has a use. I relate this expectation of utility to the way we treat ourselves and others, particularly bodies that fall outside the bounds of expected functionality. Growing up intersex and queer, I developed camouflaging techniques to spare me from cruelty. I felt shame about every part of myself – my body, my gender, my sexuailty, my poorness – I did not want to be seen. original hardwoods is an instance of camouflaging techniques drawing attention to the thing intended to be hidden, paralleling the way differences invite notice. It is an object that exists as both a material and an object. Its failed attempt at mimicry results in a new, hybrid beauty while subverting expectations of value and use. The assumption of authenticity and visual seamlessness when viewing original hardwoods against actual hardwood floors dissolves when the reality of color, structure, and pattern registers. I am interested in this product of failure, the hybrid form that is born from attempting to be a thing that one inherently is not. Through the labor and care of handweaving I reflect on my experience with camouflaging while speaking to everyone who has felt like the hybrid cloth that falls short of being the ‘real thing.'”
original hardwoods, 2019
4’ x 6’ handwoven cotton
Sophia DeJesus-Sabella is a weaver based in Hartford, Connecticut. Influenced by her blue collar upbringing, her woven and sculptural works interrogate class, gender, queerness, and utility by combining traditional handweaving with found construction materials. She graduated with Departmental Honors in 2019 from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She has been an artist in residence at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts with forthcoming summer residencies at ACRE and Hartford Artisans Weaving Center. Her work has been featured in Boston Hassle, warp + weft magazine, and Wovenutopia.