Riley Gunderson

Research Binder, 2021-Present

Paper, pen, marker, pencil, tape, glue, sticky notes, and note cards
11.5” x 11” x 2.5”

In this research, I have been specifically exploring the history of the materiality of craft, textile arts, and decorative arts at large, specifically concerning queerness and feminist thought. I am looking at the history of materials on a personal and collective scope, specifically their connotations and how those implications have come to be.

Research Binder, detail

Research Binder, detail

Warp-Weighted Loom (Front of Loom), 2021-Present

Wood, acrylic paint, air-dry clay, model magic, thread, heat-sensitive pigment, stickers, paper, screws, nails, and glitter
69” x 48” x 34.5”

This warp-weighted loom is a visually loud, queer sculptural object and functional weaving tool. This type of loom is a medieval, lost practice that has been labeled as ‘women’s work’ and devalued. It was also historically used by multiple women at once, making it an object that promoted community and collaboration. I have taken this project and its history to create a queer, feminist space.

Warp-Weighted Loom (Back of Loom), detail

Warp-Weighted Loom, detail

Yarn, warp thread, embroidery thread, found fabric, friendship bracelets, and swimsuit padding inserts
19.25” x 9” x .75”

This is an in-process tapestry being woven on the loom. Past, present, and future timelines intersect as the product the loom makes is equally important as the loom is making art objects while simultaneously being made itself, directly referencing the process of making and dismantling the binary concept of artwork being in-process or ‘finished'.

Warp-Weighted Loom, detail

Air-dry clay, acrylic paint, and glitter
Dimensions variable, approximately 5” x 4.5” x 1” each (8)

These loom weights are tied to the bottom of the warping threads to create tension. Each weight is a portrait of an important woman in my life. The weights are separated by the shed into two groups of four, those in front are of women who are alive and physically present in my life while those in the back are of women who have passed on and remain present in my life non-physically.

Artist Statement

The warp-weighted loom is a medieval, lost practice historically used by Northern European women to hand-weave cloth. I have created a contemporary, queer, feminist reading of this loom—the result of which is a living, functional sculpture that also acts as an autobiographical object.

I considered the role of each aspect of the loom and used it as the conceptual framework for my aesthetic decisions: the heddle bar is painted with heat-sensitive pigment as it is the most touched part of the loom; the front uprights have two-word phrases of comfort written in a three-dimensional text while the back uprights highlight the names of people/media that have impacted my relationship to queerness and/or gender; the shed bar is painted with a blue/pink gradient, referencing the many binaries discussed in this project (the natural/artificial shed, the warp/weft, the gender binary, and fine art/craft); the cloth beam has intentional stream-of-consciousness illustrations to infuse each textile; eight loom weights hang at the bottom of the loom to create tension in the warp, each of which is a portrait of an important woman in my life that has grounded me.

Alongside the making of this object has been extensive research regarding the history of craft and the decorative arts and the connotations of these materials. I investigate these histories, collecting and annotating them in my research binder alongside sketches, notes, and art historical references.

My relationship to queerness and gender, coupled with my Norwegian and Celtic heritage, led me to decide on this specific loom as an object of study as these histories are geographically and conceptually interconnected. I investigate the origins of these histories and material connotations and then intentionally recognize, reimagine, and subvert them through visual means.