Laura Fischer- Weaving color and form

Laura outside her Marin studio

I had the good fortune of meeting Laura in her studio this spring, after she reached out to me via email with the proposition of an art trade. We had one of those uncanny moments when we realized how in sync our aesthetics were: it was design love-at-first-sight. We decided to team up and offer a few of her lovely little pieces on our website.

Name: Laura Fischer
Occupation:  Studio Artist/Adjunct Professor of Textiles

Hometown:  Raised on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota.  Living in West Marin County, California

Like little sketch ideas, each piece is unique.

Isobel: We originally connected via email about a year ago, and i remember being so struck by your work online. Seeing it in person now, I'm so blown away by the level of detail in the weaving. Can you talk to me a bit about how you started weaving and the process of making each piece?

Laura:  I work with a needle and thread to weave patterned cloth directly onto cast concrete supports.  I'm interested in the possibility of calling upon an object-in-process to be my cloister.  In this case, my sculptures are intended to be building sites, or places of production where I can perform patience, practice, discipline, and work.  The series contains a growing paradox however, because my tendency to seek discipline and control through the means of this rigid, systematic process is often met with my other tendency to act intuitively, break sequence, and seek the beauty of a finished object.  I don't mind it though.  Inconsistency and contradiction-despite proper planning and attentiveness-are outcomes that I often face in the studio, and therefore, are welcome characters in my work. 

Isobel: Your studio is located in an old Naval base in Marin, surrounded by vestiges of the 'post industrial military complex'. There is something very melancholy and beautiful about your studio location, and I can't help imagining that it informs your work somehow. Do you think that's true?
Laura: Definitely.  Especially in terms of concrete.  It is a material that has seeped into my subconcious as a result of working there.  These massive concrete structures rise up next to the waterfront, sort of leftover with their original purpose unknown or forgotten.  I am very intrigued by the aesthetics of functionality.  That relationship between form and function seems especially heightened when the object is separated from its original purpose of being.
One of Laura's amazing larger scale pieces on caste concrete.
Isobel: I love the play between the delicate weaving and the industrial cement forms. How did that choice come about?
Laura:  I originally sought out concrete for its heaviness, inflexibility, and permanent nature.  I was seeking a material that could physically and metaphorically anchor my weaving process.  I was thinking about the concrete block as a cloister, a place, a job site.  Through working with the material, though, I came to appreciate the many ways the two contrast each other.  The greatest distinction between the weaving and the poured concrete forms is way in which the two materials reveal and conceal process.  In contrast to the raw concrete whose form is made by the single act of pouring wet cement into a mold, the weaving offers a map of process through intricacy of pattern.  The surface of the textile is active with shots of pattern that bear witness to my actions while the concrete is immoveable and conceals the details of its making.  

a few sketch ideas.
Isobel: Your colors are very fresh and modern but your patterns seem to be based on traditional patterns. Is that something that's important to your work?
Laura:  Yes.  A lot of these patterns are sourced from a 100 year old book of weaving drafts written by a man named Oelsner.  It is widely used within the weaving community.  When I started this body of work I liked the idea of using a very traditional source, but executing the weaving in an up-ended way.  Since then the project evolved to include patterns that I drafted from drawing exercises and pictures taken through a kaleidoscope.  And it continues to evolve.  Now, I'm starting to pay more attention to texture, thread tension, and material as content for the weaving.
So many clogs, so little time.
(Isobel) Can you talk a little about the pieces available on the Bryr website?

(Laura) This work comes from a series that operates on the challenge of weaving in miniature.  Instead of using the loom as an intermediary for weaving, I sit quietly with a small piece of scrap wood, a needle, and thread, and I experience the process of making cloth in a very intimate, slow, and direct way.

Despite their size, the process of making these miniatures feels immense to me.  Their making requires intense concentration and tenacity -- in a way, that has become their purpose: to provide me with a place to exercise patience and turn inward.