Fellowships 2025

As a visual artist, I work across media, looking through the lens of one medium into another. My current work treats paper as a sculptural fiber, using techniques of quilting, staining, and handspinning. I am interested in origins, from my own family history to art history to unknown beginnings that have been lost to time, like the advent of writing or the prehistoric invention of needlework. By learning Norwegian, the language of my immigrant grandparents, I started to develop a deep appreciation for translation and etymology from a young age – ideas that serve as analogies for how I work in the studio.

My recent work from 2022 and 2023 is informed by illuminated letters in medieval manuscripts and calligraphy. In forms reminiscent of letters, my sewn paper sculptures billow down from the wall or unfurl from the ceiling to engage the viewer’s body and reference textiles. The forms themselves become calligraphic strokes moving through the gallery space. They simultaneously relate to writing and clothing, suggesting a relationship between how we use text and textiles as a means of communication.

The physical gestures involved in the process of making my work are important to me in considering content. In We Can Go Anywhere from Anywhere, I used a drop spindle to spin strips of kozo paper into yarn, which I then crocheted into a net-like form. This work relates the practices of drawing, spinning, and writing through the practice of drafting, a term these activities share. In drawing, drafting means to render a form; in writing, to begin the process of getting ideas onto paper, and in spinning, it is the action of pulling fibers before they’re twisted together into a yarn.

I like to work with familiar materials in unfamiliar ways. The primary material I work with is paper because I’m interested in how bodily it is: it is fragile, it breathes, it has memory. Imagine a hand drafting a sentence on a page; as a tool for literacy, paper is a significant material for synthesizing mind and body.

astrisnodgrass.com

2024