Overshot weavings by Marianne and Sofia…

Overshot weavings by Marianne and Sofia...

This is the story of two artists, from either side of the Atlantic, who worked together (virtually) to create vivid and dimensional woven works that culminated into an extremely stimulating art exhibition in Copenhagen last month (June 2021). Here’s presenting the collaborative project of visual artist, designer and Assistant Professor of Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Marianne Fairbanks and textile artist Sofia Hagström Møller. Marianne tells us all about the project…


In 2018, I first visited Sweden and Denmark on a research trip to learn more about how textiles are currently taught and more widely perceived as an art form in the Scandinavian culture. As part of this research, I arranged a studio visit with the Danish weaver, Sofia Hagström Møller. Beyond sharing her studio and work with me, Sofia guided me around the art venues in Copenhagen, including Officinet and the Danish Artist Workshop. After this initial meeting, I invited her to contribute to my social weaving project, Weaving Lab, and she helped me connect to 40 other Danish weavers and exhibit small pieces of their work at Copenhagen Contemporary.  The following year, Sofia was able to come to the digital weaving lab at UW Madison for a one-week residency on the TC2 Loom.

In 2020, we applied for a residency at the Danish artist workshop followed by an exhibition at Officinet. We were thrilled to receive both opportunities and worked over the year to develop our work while navigating the pandemic and possibility of actually traveling. Covid ultimately prevented me from traveling to Denmark for the residency, so I wove my work back in Madison while Sofia wove her work at the Danish Artist Workshop. Our collaboration wasn’t able to happen in physical space so we worked together remotely via What’sApp and Google drive sending photos and ideas.

For this show, Loud Volumes Soft Stuff (opening picture above), we proposed to present works that would both boldly activate the eye and more subtly focus on the entanglements of woven cloth and their meanings, both personal and political.

Marianne Fairbanks: 

My work for this show began with an investigation into historic American overshot weaving patterns found in sourcebooks. After photographing and printing these patterns, I then manipulated the pages by hand, exploring the effects of physical interventions and dimensional shifts. I then brought these new images into the computer for further editing  before hand weaving the work on the TC2 digital jacquard loom. I used hand dyed and painted Japanese flat tapes and papers in bold palettes with a black warp to create this work.

Picture below: Painted and dyed Japanese flat paper yarn and tencel handwoven on TC2 Loom (53 cm x 61 cm)

Cut Counterpane (sourcebook series), 2021

The pages of the Counterpane draft were printed and manipulated for this weaving. With the TC2, I can weave images that do not have to behave on the traditional 90 degree angles of the warp and weft. The threads of the loom are still indeed playing by those rules, but the images woven in satins and twills depict dimensional space and ultimately a trompe-l’oeil  in thread.

The Magnolia pattern has a beautiful curve effect that depicts flower petals, and for this work I wanted to exaggerate that effect by bending the pages and then photographing the result. I find it a bit humorous in that the image is a “centerfold” wherein the  curvature of the weave draft can almost be read as a body.

For this body of work I am playing with volume optically. My strategy involves translating the patterns through photography and hand manipulated photocopies before they are ultimately woven as images.  Often, it is through this shift in medium that I hope to reveal both the engineered intricacies that lie at the heart of cloth and the beautiful binary simplicity of interlaced woven threads.

Pictures below: Painted Japanese linen knitted tape, Japanese flat paper yarn and tencel handwoven on TC2 Loom (109 cm x 77 cm)

Sofia Hagström Møller:

Hagström Møller’s work employs Scandinavian weaving traditions and manipulates the cloth into forms through the use of modern materials and experimental techniques. Each piece delves into the historical origins of the woven structure finding personal connections in the patterns and bindings. She tells woven stories that play with colors, light and materials. Presenting weave design traditions in new ways, through the use of the latest technological developments, yet always with reference to the old analog hand-crafts.

Picture below: Spray painted wooden sticks hand woven on the TC1 (100 cm x 160 cm)

Hagström Møller encountered some technical issues while working on the TC1 loom but instead of stopping, she pushed forward and figured out how to use challenges to propel the work. The loom only allowed her to weave about 50 vertical pixels of her weave file a day before it would start glitching, so she realized if she increased the size of the material she was weaving she could still produce larger works from the loom.  The material she selected was wooden sticks which she colored with spray paint, kept in sequence with a numbering system and then wove into the pattern, stick by stick. The effect of this large weft causes the pattern to be dramatically expanded, subverting the traditional Daldräll pattern through both spray-painted colors and the unconventional wooden material.

Glitch is another work by Hagström Møller that uses the Daldräll, inspired from one of her grandmother’s handwoven linens, as a binding in the weaving, as well as a visual pattern in the overall textile.  Using cotton linen that moves from black and white to a rainbow of colors  she creates a slow gradation.  The Daldräll pattern seems to jump in and out of the overall pattern that reads as rhythmic squares or pixels. The way the materials and colors transition throughout the piece creates a more subtle rhythm for the eye. Each color change in the weaving is revealed with a longer thread hanging, letting the colors spill over the fringes and creating an exciting polyrhythm

Through scale, materials and bold palettes these artists hope to create a new conversation about the textiles as sophisticated math and material way of knowing. Their overlap is how they both bring old traditions into a new light. They approach weaving with a playfulness of process that works to destabilize conventional value systems of hard and soft form-making while digging into more philosophical and personal understandings of woven entanglements.  This international collaboration allows each artist to unravel the historical and cultural origins of weaving that can be recombined to reveal new narratives and forms for this expansive global cultural moment. They plan to continue working to better understand how the history and potential textiles in the Scandinavian and American cultural traditions inform their ways of making.

Picture below: Cotton + cotton linen handwoven on the TC1 (150 cm x 58 cm)


A recorded gallery talk of these two artists can be found here: YouTube Link