Featured photo:“Constellation”, copyright Alicia Scardetta
Alicia Scardetta is a young artist from Brooklyn who creates tapestries with vibrant colors, two and three-dimensional textile structures that are inspired by objects associated with femininity. By interweaving elements of her memories and personal identity with the techniques of tapestry art, Alicia achieves a unique and playful quality in each piece.
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Alicia, how did your passion for textile art come about? Can you tell us something about your history as a textile artist?
In college, I studied fine art drawing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. When I started preparing my BFA thesis I wanted to take the line off the paper and into a physical, tactile structure. Fiber and thread felt like the most intuitive way to interpret a line. At the time, Pratt didn’t offer fiber or textile classes to fine art majors, so I sought out opportunities outside of my coursework. I held a studio internship at Dieu Donne Papermill in Manhattan, where I learned how to process flax fiber and cotton pulp into finished sheets of handmade paper. Then, I interned at the Textile Arts Center, where I learned how to operate a treadle loom and weave tapestry. I later went on to take workshops at both Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, where I further honed my technical skills in fiber.
“Jump Rope”, 33”x 11”, 2014, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
Are there any artists or artistic currents from which you draw inspiration?
I live in New York City and I make a point of visiting the museums and galleries here on a regular basis. It’s always inspiring to step outside my front door and take the subway to a new exhibition.I recently visited the Hilma afKlint: Paintings for the Future exhibit at the Guggenheim. It’s the first major exhibition of the afKlint’s work in the states and I think we will see her work influencing many American artists. Her pieces are vibrant and otherworldly, it’s hard not to be inspired by her use of colors, shapes and content.
How do you design a new tapestry? Do you rely on a rigid design activity or do you let yourself be guided more by instinct?
I usually start with an overall structure and color palette in mind. From there I may make sketches of what I want the finished piece to look like or create some color studies. Then I warp the loom and start weaving. I make a lot of color decisions while I’m actually weaving the piece, seeing how one color interacts with another and making changes as I go.
“Forever”, 2016, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
“Forever” Detail, 2016, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
How much time do you take to complete a new artwork?
The techniques I use are time consuming. I weave and wrap all of my pieces by hand. An 18” x 24” piece can take up to 40 hours to complete. Sometimes people are shocked by how long the work takes, but as a society we often spend the same amount of time, if not more, on our computers, tablets and smartphones. Time is what you make of it.
Alicia, your tapestries have a fresh and playful style, with the use of solar and vibrant colors. What role does colour play in your work?
The vibrant colors, wrapped elements and unexpected compositions found in my work are largely drawn from objects associated with girlhood; including friendship bracelets, jump ropes and hair braids. I’m also interested in color interactions, how one color looks when placed next to another.
“Lariat”, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
“Lariat”, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
As for the choice of materials, do you rely on traditional materials or do you like to experiment? Do you hand dye the threads you use? How important is the choice of materials for you?
Rope plays a huge role in my work, it is the base of many of my pieces serving as the warp. I use primarily wool, which is a traditional tapestry fiber. To balance the softness of the wool I often implement metallics in my work. I do not dye my own fibers but I am interested in exploring new materials as a way to evolve my work.
Alicia in her studio
Do you prefer to make small or large works? Why?
I would love to make more large scale works but I have been limiting myself to smaller, more manageable pieces at the moment due to the size of my studio. Last year I made my largest piece to date which measures about 5ft x 5ft. It took several months to complete, it now hangs in my living room.
“Melted Forever”, 38’ x 30’, 2016, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
“Hopscotch”, 20” x 12.5”, 2015, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
What are you working now?
I always have at least one tapestry going but as for a larger project, I’m currently working on planning for next year. I have a lot of ideas and I don’t always write them down. So right now I’m spending some time recording my thoughts and dreams and hoping to take action on them in the new year!
“Solstice”, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
“Medina”, 25” x 36”, 2018, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
How do you imagine your artwork in future?
I’m interested in bringing other elements into my work whether it be wood, metal or ceramic. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the balance of materials and I’m interested in making some pieces that have both hard and soft elements.
“Large Forever”, 2017, Copyright Alicia Scardetta
Weavings, Copyright Alicia Scardetta