Some artists use paint or pencils, clay or canvas. I use fiber and shape it with a spinning wheel. Contemporary handspinning allows me to sculpt a three dimensional line of variegated texture and width, while simultaneously controlling the color and reflective capabilities of the strand. Every skein I spin is a sculpture contrasting drastically narrow width with extensive length. The structure of yarn is fascinating in its potential, both as a solitary strand and when arranged in quantity. By utilizing the spinning wheel to sculpt my lines, I have the freedom to compose not only color and texture planes, but to viscerally bind, wrap and web larger shapes within three dimensions.
Textiles and techniques from global sources inspire my spinning and sculptural composition. I relate materials and aesthetics from across cultures and across time periods. Recent exploration of the Japanese art of temari has led me to create a series of fiber wrapped spheres, a new platform to connect otherwise incongruous lines and materials. Kimono fabric from Japan and the deep jewel tones of sari silk from India are repurposed in my art. Industrialized cables, reclaimed fibers, vintage textiles and metals interact with the my organically spun yarns. The combinations communicate my human craving for nature and simplicity even as I depend upon and consume the comforts of my industrialized, homogenized and frequently toxic world.
Questions of composition, balance, color theory, physical technique and personal interpretation all hold value in the creation of handspun yarn. Often dismissed as a historical curiosity, spinning is at the root of Textile Art. The ability to control a spun line in color and shape while understanding the properties of both fiber and twist impact every discipline within the world of textiles, and inspires me on a daily basis.
Anna Upston, 2016