- NANCY ENGSTAD
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Early in my work in THE THREADS PROJECT I realized that I could put two images together, two analogous works as a device that would prevent the viewer from immediately making a judgment of value based on material and process. One image might be a more “traditional” medium such as drawing or painting, while the other could use elements derived from or be a textile.
The origin of the idea of using pairs was a fortuitous visit to Santa Fe in the summer of 2oo0 to visit a colleague in my first etching workshop at Crown Point Press (see the Page: THREADS AT CROWN POINT PRESS ) in San Francisco. During a tour of the galleries we visited that of William Siegal Gallery which shows both contemporary art and Pre-Columbian art, including textiles. I happened to notice a gallery announcement for a show pairing Twentieth-Century color-field paintings and ancient textiles. At the time of course, I did not realize that this concept would provide a major breakthrough as a device in what was to become “The Threads Project”. It would be the next summer, 2001, I realized the relationships that could be made using pairs, beginning with my hand-dyed cloth and etchings. Later that year, after moving to Manhattan shortly after 9/11, I continued with this idea of pairs using various materials. A series of smaller works on watercolor paper explored the idea of the linear quality of thread and the idea of using it as both subject and medium in drawing. I called these smaller works my “lab pieces” because of their size and because the experimentation could potentially be developed into larger works.
Since drawing has been the primary means of expression most of my life, it was a focus of the “The Threads Project” and in many ways the perfect way to combine textile elements with a fine art approach. I reasoned that the primary constituent of cloth is thread. Thread is linear, and drawing, in its simplest form, is making lines. Hence the two could be combined in many experimental ways.
These pieces, each about 7 inches high by 5 inches wide, are mounted as pairs. Here I used embossing into the pliant watercolor paper with thread-like imagery.
Threads: Red and Violet I 2001
Threads: Red Violet II 2001
These two pairs use colored pencil and embossing, along with actual thread.
Threads: Before Green 2001
These pieces opened the possibility of using thread as both subject and medium.