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Lost in Fiber | agency + tools

Posted on: Monday, December 28, 2015

I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new website, Lost in Fiber | agency
In addition to ongoing studio and cultural preservation projects, the development of an 'agency' is really a long-overdue effort to formalize creative conversations that I have cultivated with talented individuals globally. 'Agency' in this instance refers to the role that relationship-building plays in providing solutions and meaningful material exchanges.

The site is organized into the following themes: atmosphere, cultivated, destination, historic, materials + studio life, objects + tools, worn, Lost in Fiber print tools, and Lost in Fiber stories. The edited selection of images represents art and design initiatives from my own archives – this includes documentation of cultural outreach efforts, historic artifacts, travel, styling projects (see worn) as well as a collection of stories that have influenced my development as an artist and collaborator. The news section features interviews, current projects, and announcements for events. The print tools page will be active during early January 2016. More on this soon.

The site is very much a work-in-progress with more documentation to be added, but for now, I am eager to share what I feel is the next step for me in terms of personal community building tied to documented narratives. A special thank you to everyone who has contributed to the development of this creative concept, with inspiration and cheer.

News | Prints | Tools

Posted on: Friday, November 13, 2015

November hues and grasses as inspiration for Lost in Fiber projects to come
(photographed at Wave Hill gardens | November 2015)

I might seem quiet these days but this is surely not the case. I have been busy archiving old and new projects, updating online statements, and fleshing out the details for a new Lost in Fiber | agency site – launching soon.

The wild and gritty hideaway along the Gowanus Canal

I am also fortunate to have a new part-time studio space to work from in the Gowanus Canal neighborhood of Brooklyn. I will be doing texture palette studies of the local environs this late autumn and winter as well as documenting 'fiber extensions' over the canal's bridges.

As the official holiday season approaches, I will be sharing news of an affordable 'newsprint series' that I am creating as a suite of publication tools exploring visual narratives. These prints are not images of my actual art work but rather large 17 x 22 inch prints of color, texture, or environmental findings that I have documented during my travels. 

Inspiration for palette studies linking the Hudson Valley with the Gowanus
(photographed at Wave Hill gardens | November 2015)

In an era where social media and prolific 'sharing' often passes over meaningful day-to-day interactions and tactile experiences, all of the above will aim to further examine ways to be more fluid in creative agency and handmade material solutions.

Toolshedding | Material Reflections

Posted on: Thursday, October 22, 2015

'Borders | No Borders 02' | woven drawing + dried vegetation | Abigail Doan (2015)

In response to conversations and dialogues related to my recent Toolshedding installation at Weaving Hand studio in Brooklyn, I am sharing passages from my October 1 artist talk as well as links to a selection of views from the gallery walls. The following passages (in quotes) are my own (material) reflections:

"The concept of Toolshedding grew out of a need for tools and authentic objects that might interweave (or facilitate common material relations) across formal disciplines and locales. 

That is, modern tools that might also serve as border defying agents."

Toolshedding (2015) installation in Brooklyn incorporating Bulgarian shepherd bells, twined textiles from Archive New York, oversized pom-poms created as a collaboration with Zaida of Balmaseda studio in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico, linen fiber donated by artist Brece Honeycutt, and Icelandic sheepskin 'scraps' from the design studio of Titania Inglis.

"Given my travel between the U.S., Bulgaria, and Italy, specifically, I needed to create a nomadic studio kit that might be easily transportable, fluid in terms of the diversity or range of selected objects, and textural when situated into new contexts.

Two years ago, I decided to take this dialogue one step further by asking designers from the U.S., Eastern Europe, and Turkey to donate scrap materials from their studios as a way for me to further expand their fiber and/or textile vocabulary while on the road.

This exercise was also a reaction of sorts to interesting visual dialogues that I would observe (via social media) between friends who had never met each other but whose materials and methods had striking connections. I began exploring how the recycled fragments from these individuals’ studio became whole again when they found each other or were intuitively synthesized in unexpected ways."

"Toolshedding proposes that our borders are shifting, but not in ways that will inevitably eradicate cultural identity or traditional know-how and resilience."

A juxtaposition of objects and tools from the rural U.S., Guatemala, and Prague.

"I am searching for more tactile manifestations of cross-cultural sharing and social media dynamics. This need reflects my own desire for ways to better navigate an increasingly complex and seemingly desensitized world. I have housed select objects and tools to honor what has come before me, how challenging (rewarding) the work might have been, and also how beautiful the crossovers can be – a process that is inclusive and aims to leave both bold and subtle evidence of our remains."

Stay tuned for more updates as the project travels to new locales during late 2015 and into 2016. You can continue to view more images on Tumblr as well as Lost in Fiber | Instagram.

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 24, 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

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