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Toolshedding Exhibition + Talk @ Weaving Hand Gallery

Posted on: Monday, September 14, 2015

detail of a micro-weaving for Toolshedding | Abigail Doan (September 2015)

Please join me for ‘Toolshedding’ at Weaving Hand gallery in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, October 1 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The event will include an artist discussion and a solo exhibition featuring a curated selection of handmade artifacts and textile tools from my traveling studio.

‘Toolshedding’ is an ongoing project exploring the visual archiving and preservation of culturally endangered agricultural and textile objects. As an artist who has lived between the U.S. and Eastern Europe for the past several years, I have been been collecting and working with fiber artifacts, regional textiles, and rural tools in order to explore border-defying design and fashion ideas. This transformative process has helped me to create my own taxonomy of nomadic tools for form-building and travel investigations.

preview of materials in Toolshedding | Abigail Doan (September 2015)

Collected artifacts include shepherd bells from Bulgaria, braided tent rope from Turkey, hand-spun wool from the Hudson Valley, woven banners from Bohemia, folkloric costume elements, vintage embroidery diagrams, and recycled fibers from the studios of global artist and designer friends. I am not only building a ‘shed’ for these objects but also exploring how modern materiality is rooted in craft expressions that ultimately unite rather than divide us.

Collaborative material contributors include Anny CraneArchive New York, Balmaseda studio’s Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda, Bazaar BayarBrece Honeycutt, Cave CollectiveCeca Georgieva, Courtney CedarholmDoug JohnstonErin Considine, Han StarnesStudy NY, and Titania Inglis.

‘Toolshedding’ will remain on view through October 21, 2015.

Weaving Hand gallery is located at
47 Hall Street, Section E#1, 2nd floor | entrance is on 43 Hall Street

Material Dialogues | Summer Patina

Posted on: Wednesday, August 05, 2015

featured piece 'Euphrosyne, 1991 | linen, black tape

A selection of artists + designers who have really captured the summer glow 
with bold material investigations and lasting creative patina.

Summer Escape | Gela and Rural (Folklore) Traditions

Posted on: Friday, July 24, 2015

Hiking artifact crafted in Gela, Bulgaria

Time and time again, I am deeply inspired by the rural environs of Gela, Bulgaria. As the professed birth place of Orpheus, the stunning landscape surrounding Gela is resonant with the mysterious and primordial overtones of the Rhodope Mountains' agrarian history.

I had traveled to Gela once before as a springtime guest at Villa Gella (spelled differently than the mountaintop hamlet's name). This time around I traveled with my family in order to attend the weekend long, Rozhen Folklore Festival. 

A fresh new day with breakfast at Villa Gella, prior to setting off for a day of exploration

This visit was also a welcome opportunity to savor local recipes, crisp mountain air, and in turn slow the pace of my days as an artist | mother living between NYC and Sofia (for a few months of the year).

The serene spa and lap pool overlooking the mountains at Villa Gella

Traditional details, art work, and soothing textures in the quiet zone at Villa Gella

Our hosts at Villa Gella always make returning to their exquisite and resourcefully designed chalet an occasion to reflect on life as it could be, perhaps should be, or at least might be in a modern world that measures 'progress' in ways that do not always promise genuine health and true productivity. 

A late day hike on a mountain path in Gela offers up this serene beauty

I also wanted my active twin boys to experience the richness of the land near Gela – that is, the expansive vistas, the organic local food, the diversity of regional customs, the alluring gaida (bagpipe) music, and restorative hikes on ancient shepherd footpaths.

On a personal note, with all of the talk about slow textiles, traditional craft, and cultural preservation often swirling around me, I have come to feel that falling in love with a place, returning from time to time to see how things have changed (or not), and listening to the stories of those who live there full-time (as stewards), is an integral part of finding ways to dream about solutions, both local and global.

Traditional turlitsi slippers with regional folklore costume details

Kopriva (Коприва) | locally foraged nettle delicacies prepared by the chef at Villa Gella

It is often the innate details – the way that an embroidered hemline mimics the edges of nettle leaves displayed as garnish on a dinner plate –  that help me to better interpret the true meaning of life.

Rozhen Folklore Festival 2015 featuring a 'каракачаните' nomadic hut

'каракачаните' dancers and musicians preparing to perform at the Rozhen Festival

This year's Rozhen Festival demonstrated that folks, young and old, will still travel great distances to perform traditional village songs and dances – together, for the simple act of doing so in the open air where their spirits might co-mingle with mountain air, ancient tales, and the scent of Bulgarian food cooking on an open grill or over a campfire. 

This sort of gathering offers unexpected freedoms (even with the crowds) and does not have a measurable price by other standards. It all feels uniquely like home.

Rhodope Mountain villagers prepare to perform at the Rozhen Folklore Festival 

Villa Gella remains in my mind as an exquisite and luxurious crossroad for those in need of re-connecting with what is both grounding (sustainable) and otherworldly. During our recent stay one of my seven year old sons encouraged me to simply relax into the symphony of grasshoppers and crickets during our pre-dinner stroll. He advised me that the insects were playing 'their instruments' loudly for us because we loved nature, and they knew this.

Late afternoon siesta in the wildflowers of Gela

At moments like this, I feel as if I might have done a few things right in this lifetime of mine. If we do not take time to set the stage for these reflections, noise will always just be noise and not a concert or unexpected gathering that we recognize as something deeper than an invasion of our precious goals and tightly wound schedules.

Thank you, dear friends at Villa Gella and folklore artists at the Rozhen Festival, for creating this unique opportunity to overlap with the past, present, and future – all in a natural manner that speaks to cultural, ecological, and handmade traditions that extend beyond our borders.

All photos by Abigail Doan | July 2015 | Bulgaria

Summer Studio | Portal 01

Posted on: Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 2015 work table with vintage Bulgarian fashion patterns, my favorite book of embroidery motifs, and printed textile scraps from Archive New York

Pattern detail from a Bulgarian icon painting | photo by Abigail Doan

'Make Hay While the Sun Shines' | mixed media | Abigail Doan (2015)

'Soft Fence Line' in progress with recycled textiles scraps | photo by Abigail Doan

All of the above, fueled by fresh cherries and peaches in Bulgaria.

Portal to Summer 2015

Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2015

A selection of Lost in Fiber artifacts + studio materials for Summer 2015

I will be drifting soon to my summer perch or perches overseas. As usual, the dilemma of how to pack a 'nomadic studio' can be a bit daunting, and in preparation for my upcoming Toolshedding installation this autumn, there seems to be a mix of tools as well as fiber materials in my kit.

Throughout the summer of 2015 I will be posting more updates on Instagram and Tumblr than on my artist blog, so please feel free to follow along for both travel images as well as process musings.

Some of my favorite fiber accessories being archived before travel

See you on the other side of personal research time and slow travel.

Post Pastoral

Posted on: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lark Ascending II (print) available here

They had me from the very start with the poetic collection name, Post Pastoral. Talented and thoughtful friend, Adele, from Voices of Industry writes:

In February, I began a conversation with Valeda Beach Stull, artist and photographer, as part of a broader inquiry into the pastoral. Our correspondence started with a set of woven objects and a handful of literary and musical references. Valeda responded to each woven object and captured her work on film. 

This new collection of work embodies our dialogue of woven objects, soil, seeds and light as we examined both the beautiful and the brutal, dissonance and synchrony.

Triptych 1 | handwoven three panel triptych with indigo drawing | available here

The Garden (print) available here

Sense of Place (print) available here

Perhaps it goes without saying that visual narratives like this really work for me. Not only am I able to lose myself in layers of detail that transcend the standard product shot or studio visit, but the unexpected intersections of deep(er) craft can emerge in ways that reflect the pining we feel – as modern drifters over local soil or our orderly urban grid.

Read more about Post Pastoral here. All images courtesy of the artists | designers.

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