By: Gina Lee Robbins, Artist-in-Residence
As we head into the last few weeks of my residency at DuPage Children’s Museum, we’ve started to explore a selection of reclaimed materials, including textiles, plastic, vinyl, and rubber. These softer materials will complement the brightly colored ceramic texture tiles and panels that we created in early August.
We’ll be combining these items via circular weaving, and stitching, using reclaimed bicycle tires as our framing device. I selected these “looms” both for their shape, and their nubby texture–especially in the case of the chunky mountain and BMX bike tires.
What I hadn’t considered in my planning is how well this circular weaving format lends itself to collaboration.
Visitors to The Studio always love the opportunity to make something special to bring home, and our weave and stitch stations have been stocked with opportunities for guests to make small embroidery, weaving, or fabric collage items to take with them. But virtually everyone who visits The Studio also wants to contribute to the collaborative mural, or “tactile mosaic” we’re building.
We’ve woven tires with strips of old Levi’s, and brightly colored zippers. Bits of lime green vinyl placemats burst through turquoise fabric reminding visitors of the sea floor, a spring bloom, or some other natural occurrence.
But the most exciting results are those that render a carnival explosiveness… those whose design was left to the whims of whomever happened to sit down and add to it. Brightly colored fabrics are interwoven with faux fur, sequins, and velveteen. Handcrafted yarn pom-poms and finger-knitted chains are stitched onto surfaces.
Unlike standard looms, these rings enable several weavers to be working simultaneously around a table. Parent and child, cousins, neighbors, close friends, and complete strangers sit on opposite sides of the “looms,” joining colorful, multi-textured concentric lines. The finished, continuous spiral makes it difficult to discern where one visitor’s hand paused, and another’s carried on.
As I watch these weavings grow and multiply from day-to-day, I see that we’re creating an accurate reflection of the diverse, colorful and multi-layered community of Museum members, visitors, and staff. Each artist selects the fabrics, yarn, or notions that speak to them individually, in a given moment. But woven tightly together, these acts make up a single gesture that is at once dynamic, synthesized, and unique.
Gina will be in The Studio:
About Gina: Gina Lee Robbins has been creating sculptures out of clay and found materials for over 25 years. She has been leading arts integration and enrichment programs in preschool, elementary and middle school classrooms, as well as adult cancer and wellness support centers in Chicago and throughout the Western Suburbs since 2010. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and is included in private and corporate collections worldwide. Learn more about Gina at her website.