In anticipation of her latest exhibition, Interwoven, Amanda Wood has taken the time to tell us about herself, her inspiration, her audience and other projects. In this interview Amanda demonstrates a drive toward total material understanding evident in her investigative approach to textile and media exploration. Amanda’s own experience with education and learning, as well as her passion for creation, is graciously shared through her admirable teaching practice which she speaks about here. Interwoven will be on view at the CCBC gallery from July 8 to August 19, 2021.
I think of myself as an interdisciplinary artist working in between process and idea. I have a degree in communications and training as a hand weaver which pulls me into both my body and my mind. In my practice I’m always dancing between my thoughts and process-based making and untangling new threads between them. I really enjoy working at the intersection of these two interests. I think there is a lot of uncharted territory in the in-between space. I’m also quite interested in language and especially the power in the prefix “inter” at the moment.
I studied media theory as part of my undergrad degree, and I continue to read a lot of work by cultural theory thinkers. I’m curious about different strategies for working in the space between digital and real-world experiences rather than the extremes: finding this mythic balance or vilifying all technology. The more I discover, the more I think binaries like this are harmful and I find myself moving towards ways of finding hope, flexibility, and new forms in the glitches that sneak into life when we’re not looking.
As a hand weaver, after completing a two-year textile program, I dabbled in textile research, teaching, and production weaving. The research and teaching aspects really resonated for me. I really enjoy embodied research and a collaboration with the materials. I like to start with an idea and then see how my chosen materials respond and then reply to them.
Recently I’ve been working with traditional woven structures, thinking about them as a text that I can translate and noticing the unexpected that happen through translation – a tactile glitch you could say. In some ways I’m coming back to theory in physical form. I’ve also been working in other media like clay, photography, and printmaking. I’m interested in translating cloth and glitches in these materials.
As a teacher I love helping new weavers explore materials and tools, make connections to their cultural roots through textile research and I really try to create a fun and inclusive space for exploration without any pressure to create a functional object. We learn so much by fumbling, and really listening to materials.
“I really want to use my practice to explore my own curiosity about materials, forms, and the sense of being in-between and to encourage others to do the same.“
I think I’ve always been an artist, but it took a long time for me to see myself that way. I come from a very practical family where I learned a lot of the traditional homemaking skills that seem to be having a resurgence now. My maternal grandmother was a strong figure in my early life and there was simply no option to not learn these things. As a child, after spending time with grandma, I would play with left over materials and build sculptures, and non-functional things with cloth, threads, bricks, cardboard, bread dough anything I could find really. I was developing a process-based practice without even knowing it.
Over the last six years I have been working professionally as an artist and I would say that it’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve really narrowed down my intentions for my practice. Working with mentors like Lenka Clayton and Sarah Irvin has really expanded my thinking about what is possible and I’m learning to get comfortable with risk-taking, changing direction and working in a more immediate way as needed. I used to think I was scattered, but I think it’s more a sign of growth and development in my practice and as a human being. I really want to use my practice to explore my own curiosity about materials, forms, and the sense of being in-between and to encourage others to do the same.
My current work is about looking at cloth more closely without the physicality that we normally experience. Essentially, I am removing the softness or roughness of cloth and the function. I was thinking about how to express the emotional connections that we have with cloth through tactile processes and forms outside of textiles. I also wanted to suspend time for a moment and think about how multiple forms could exist simultaneously. The pieces are quiet, vulnerable imperfect experiments and require slow looking. They reflect my beginners mind and a spirit of unlearning.
I would hope that viewers would really take some time with the work, think about the visual connections between the different media and get a sense of cloth suspended in different forms simultaneously. I hope that the work captures the vulnerability, and fragility of cloth but also the strength and that this would give people a quiet moment to feel these things for themselves.
When I am not in my studio I am often teaching. I am currently putting together new weaving class offerings for the fall that I’ll announce on instagram. Watch for those coming soon!
I also work with the local AiRs program that finds underused spaces in schools and creates art studios for year-long artist residencies. The intention is to create a very high level of equitable, inclusive socially relevant and collaborative art programming for elementary school students who would not otherwise have access. It’s a brilliant program with so much heart. Students and teachers keep me on my toes, push me to think in different ways and I really see how impactful the experience is on the mental health and resiliency of the whole community. We’re always looking for support and artists who want to be involved.