*Featured photo: HEATWAVE, 2022, 3D textile, 48.5 W x 80 H x 2 D inch. Hand dyed cotton warp and gradient mohair thread weft Made on a 40 Harness AVL Dobby Loom, copyright Anya Molyviatis
Anya Molyviatis is a fibre artist and designer born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1994 and currently lives and works in Austin, Texas (USA).
Her training path to develop research intensely rooted in textile is full of different experiences. First, she began her studies at Aiglon College, then moved to the United States to attend the Visual Art faculty in New York, and then the course with the National Outdoor Leadership School. Later, in California, the artist dedicates herself to studying sustainable architecture and permaculture, and in New Mexico, where the encounter with the techniques of traditional textile craftsmanship is fundamental. Thus, Molyviatis decided on the definitive direction of her studies: weaving. Her path culminates in 2021 with a BFA in fibre at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
In this interview, the artist tells us about her research highlights, sources of inspiration, goals and her work future developments.
How did your passion for weaving come about and what was your training path? Did you always want to become an artist?
I would have never anticipated the love and passion that I have developed for weaving.
My journey to this point began with an exploration of materiality and sustainable architecture. I grew up in an artistic family quite early in my life, art became my primary language for communication. I was constantly creating projects that united me with the natural world and interior worlds I lived in, from light installations to driftwood sculptures, murals, and furniture design. It was a natural step to pursuing a career as an artist. In 2014, I began university at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, NY as an undecided major. My interests overlapped in both fine art and design, and therefore, I wanted a curriculum that allowed me to explore various creative disciplines. While I was studying, my sensitivity to New York’s stimulating urban environment was overwhelming. I couldn’t stop thinking about the relationship humanity held with its urban landscapes, the mental effects we developed from living in the design of urban cities as well as disturbing environmental impacts that large cities like New York produced. I was keen to find answers that would help future generations live more symbiotically with nature, the nonhuman world, and urban environments. In 2015 I decided to take a year off from art school to study environmental science and learn about the natural habitats to begin my journey of answering these inescapable questions. This is when I embarked on a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course where I spent 90 days living in the Rocky Mountains. Reflecting back, this experience was pivotal for my art career, as I learned about the power of our senses when we are able to really tune into the environments around us. This concept has become the foundation of my work. Once I finished the NOLS course, I continued my education at the Cal-Earth Institute as a long-term apprentice learning about sustainable architecture, super-adobe design, and permaculture design. Architecture bridged all the elements I wanted to explore but towards the latter half of my apprenticeship, I began to realize the importance of materials. I dove deep into researching potential materials that I could utilize, which is what led me to fibers and weaving.
After my apprenticeship, I planned to attend another architecture program in Taos, New Mexico. I decided to go early and work there due to a three-month gap between my programs. New Mexico has a rich and deep history of textile craft, and I was fascinated by it. I spent those three months reading, going to weaving studios, and learning about the local fibers and dye processes. After three months, I decided to not pursue my architecture program, and instead began a weaving apprenticeship. In 2016 I became the apprentice of Master Weaver Brook Hemmenway where I learned techniques in traditional southwest tapestry making.
The first moment I touched a loom, I felt an instant connection and pull to the machine. The feeling was truly profound and spurred my belief that textiles have the power to change the way we understand the world for the better of humanity and the planet. After my apprenticeship, I decided I needed to learn everything there was about this craft and started researching schools that offered weaving programs. When I saw the facilities at the Savannah College of Art and Design I applied and began my BA degree in fibers in 2017. I spent the next four years learning about floor looms, digital looms, as well as researching and developing materials up until my graduation in May 2021. Since completing this degree, I relocated my studio to Austin, Texas, where I have three looms: a 40 harness 60-inch AVL dobby loom; a 24 harness 20-inch AVL dobby loom; and an 8 harness 60-inch floor loom. After 5 years of non-stop weaving, I still feel I am only at the beginning of this exploration––the work feels that generative. My processes continue to form and grow as my relationships with my looms deepen every day! With the loom as an extension of my physical body that I become increasingly adept at using, I feel more and more like I am becoming half-human, half-machine!
What kind of research characterizes your production? What mainly influences your imagery and artistic practice?
My work blurs the lines between art and design. When I create, I think of design concepts. Art also plays a huge factor in my work as I believe that great art is embedded with great design and vice versa. I use beauty and aesthetically pleasing visual forms to tap into optical sensory experiences. When I started weaving, my research was influenced by permaculture design, e-textiles, nature, and sustainable design. These concepts have since been refined into a vision of creating animation within a textile for the purpose of uniting natural environments with interior spaces. Each piece must give rise to an emotional reaction within me and unite me with the immediate surroundings. In this way, my work becomes alive, nurturing, and spiritual. Color becomes an important element in my work. I use it as a communicator of sensory experiences. I am drawn to gradients for their ease at creating motion and for the ability to see color as a subjective experience. Being a sensitive person, I find clarity in color, and I use it as a form of internal emotional dialogue. Having been exposed to multiple cultures and languages, I believe that color is a perfect universal language that humanity can connect through.
In your works, color, shaded and layered, becomes a tool for sensory exploration and perhaps even the subject of the work itself. Do you find yourself in this statement? Can you tell us about the research on color that characterizes your practice?
Absolutely––I believe that our human senses are the most powerful tool we have. Through that, my work becomes a personal experience for each viewer, myself included. I create my palettes to externalize a feeling that pulls me into the present moment, and each palette is drawn from a sensation that I have inside of me that I want to feel and see in the real world. A lot of this is about leaning into a visual language that can capture emotions beyond the verbal. My works are thus emotional landscapes that can be returned to and nestled in. I create my pieces as if I am gardening, planting all my materials and colors to grow. With different light and temperatures, they change subtly. I see how hues change depending on their surrounding relationships and how the mohair blooms depending on the temperature. The three-dimensional layer adds a depth that invites you into them and adds to the color-changing effect based on phenomenon’s of color theory.
Fiber artist but also painter. Your paintings recall the textures, depth and tactility of textile surfaces. What is the common denominator between these works and your textures?
The most common denominator between my paintings and woven works is the reflection on how magical it is to be alive and tuned in to the intimate environments we surround ourselves with. All my artworks, regardless of medium, seek to create a window that provides a vista of meditation where humanity can dive deeper into the collectively undiscovered self.
In Resin Wovens, the fabric is immersed inside a block of resin. From what reflection does this encounter between such different materials come?
I created my Resin Wovens series to explore material relationships, material applications, and create new contexts for my three-dimensional weavings to live in. I’m fascinated by watching materials perform in different environments. Resin Woven feels like ancient textiles lost in another time, reminiscent of a fossil suspended in material. I also define my three-dimensional textiles as soft sculptures, so immersing them in resin allowed me to showcase their sculptural and structural elements.
An event or project that played an important role in your professional development?
The most significant event I return to is when I decided to take a year off from my first university program. At the time, I was young and confused but I knew deep inside that the path to my career relied on opportunities for me to explore and learn in unconventional ways. Looking back now, every step from that moment was leading me exactly where I need to be. It led me to find my passion. Weaving is more than a craft I love; it is a channel for me to help humanity in a profound and truthful way. This experience fuels me and reminds me of the large vision I have for weaving.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m working on a new body of work that extends from my Waffle Gradient Series. this collection consists of large-format pieces that use mohair and my own waffle structure patterns. These pieces are the largest three-dimensional weavings I have made to-date. I plan to complete this series by early 2023, and then exhibit the series in a range of art exhibitions and gallery spaces. Additionally, as an emerging female artist, I’m always promoting my work on social media and building an audience to share my passion for weaving.
My long-term goal is to open an innovation studio for research and development of interactive textiles for commercial spaces, galleries, and public installations for the purpose of educating, pushing textiles to new dimensions through the use of emerging technologies, and promoting the importance of designing for human senses.