The Sublime does not
but rather transports
them out of themselves...
For true greatness is
enriches the thoughts,
something that is hard,
if not impossible to gainsay,
leaves an enduring,
—Longinus, 1st to 3rd c. AD
Humans have an inescapable desire for rationality, structure, and order. We seek efficiency and certainty in our individual and communal lives. We have been encouraged to believe that most things are under our control until something strikes us and brings to consciousness the limits of our knowledge. It’s usually nature’s wild power that overwhelms our faculty of reason and reminds us of our limits. Philosophers called this sensation of overwhelm in the face of nature the sublime experience.
In modern cities, surrounded by skyscrapers, we are reminded of our own technological achievements, while nature feels disconnected and distant. Yet, if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, even in urban environments, nature’s mysteriousness and ongoing transformation leads us to feel a full spectrum of emotions as it plays with our perception and imagination.
In my textile collection for interiors, I use the skyscraper and its straight, repetitive lines as a reference to our intellect and rationality, highlighting at the same time how its reflective and translucent surfaces mirror the sky’s endless and active transformation. In the urban environment, the sky may be the only nature that evoke the sublime you can readily find to be experienced.
With emphasis on materiality, form, texture, and color, my collection speaks to the phenomena observable in both universes—rigid, urban, man-made, alongside natural, transient, and vast—as a reminder that we and our achievements are part of nature’s power and that we are, in some sense “one with the world.”
Aluminum screen, cotton yarn, 80 x 36 in.
80 x 36 in.
This piece, composed of a handwoven fabric panel hung in front of wallpaper, represents a moment of continuous interplay between the tangible and the intangible, the substantial and the transcendental. It speaks about how contrasting elements influence one another and how their encounter is inevitable in the urban environment, as they are components of the same, grand scheme of nature.
Woven with a hand-dyed gradient warp interlaced with folded aluminum screen strips, this panel has a form and depth in itself, which catches light and casts shadows on the wallpaper behind it. Its color dissipates or concentrates depending on where the viewer is positioned and interferes with the wallpaper’s pattern visibility. The handwoven panel, which transitions to yellow, orange, and pink at the front (and different hues of blue at the back), obscures the wallpaper’s clear, striped pattern. The visibility of each piece depends on their overlapping colors and contrast.
The interaction of light and shadow, color and texture, and the blending of both components creates an observable, engaging experience that only emerges when the two pieces are together, influencing and informing one another equally.
This piece hopes to demonstrate how different universes—whether physical or emotional—impact one another, and how our encounters with these universes is inevitable and present around us. The result is an interplay of contrasts, where nothing is crisp, clear, homogenous, and sterile, but instead holds some unknown force.
I hope that my piece transforms a space by conveying nature’s intriguing and mesmerizing experience through depth, color, texture, and pattern, and perhaps raises awareness about the many forces at play in our experiences outside.
Silk Straw, monofilament,
108 x 32 in.
This handwoven panel is a prototype for an architectural-scale window screen and vertical space definer. Made with 100% silk straw, a material with a subtle sheen and texture, this panel was woven with different densities to provide more or less transparency in each unit. Each rectangle represents a window in a skyscraper, providing a reference of scale and magnitude, and they overlap slightly differently to create an irregular grid. Dip-dyed darker shapes represent the ephemeral, fleeting shadows reflected on the translucent, permanent façade of a building and how it distorts the shape of clouds, and at the same time mark the inevitable passing of time and transient moments of wonder and awe.
To me, the simplicity of this piece and its many deliberate, subtle irregularities represent the elusive, perplexing layering of forces that is not overwhelming but is hard to grasp in its totality. It also aims to humbly remind us of our infinitesimal size in the face of the vast and powerful. I hope that the presence of this textile in an interior space brings depth, shadows, and interaction with the surroundings, bringing the mysteriousness of nature inside.
Merino wool, rayon, metallic yarn
48 w x 18.25 h x 17 d in.
Permanent Transition is a bench upholstered in pleated jacquard that aims to visually represent the contrast between nature’s phenomena and its ever-changing transformation in relation to humankind’s rationality.
The textile is composed of two sections that shift on each side of the bench: the solid pleated side with its diagonal pattern, and the pinstriped rayon colorful gradient. The solid bands and the golden diagonal pattern are regular and in repeat, as a metaphor for our intellect translated in an orderly structure. The pinstriped section, in contrast, doesn’t repeat over the length of the bench, suggesting the vast, dynamic transition of the sky.
This textile was woven on the jacquard loom using five different colors of yarns striped in a specific sequence and combination. Due to the phenomenon of simultaneous contrast, the influence that two adjacent colors have on each other, I was able to control the luminosity, temperature, and hue’s perception throughout the fabric’s length. As this is a perceptual effect and not a physical one, the arrangement of the five colors could represent the sunset transition of many colors, a natural phenomenon known as scattering.
To further contrast natural phenomena and human intellect, I explored material choices: the opaqueness and softness of the wool in a solid dark color contrasting with the golden metallic yarn that reflects light and translates the glare on the reflective surface found in skyscrapers. The diagonal pattern and the solid wool bands dissolve and disintegrate in the gradient of color, which shifts depending on the viewer’s position, giving it a transformative and fleeting quality.
This piece ultimately aims to transform a space by providing a visual and tactile experience. It speaks to our awareness when experiencing a compelling, ever-changing force, and how it challenges our intellect and rationality, as it can’t be easily explained or contained in words.
Permanent Transition VIDEO:
Photo credit: Josephine Sittenfeld /Luciana Iwamoto