Illuminating Fragility –
A Lens into Clarity
While immersed in a second career in architectural glass art, I was chosen for a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School. It was at this residency that I began exploring materials beyond my familiar glass and setting a course to examine a new world through my art. This frontier surveyed that region of space where societal values and the universe we inhabit intersect.
‘Fabric of Spacetime’ is a mixed media public art installation. The horizontal weft is alternating rows of LED-lit fiber optic strands and satin ribbon dyed on a gray scale. The weaving is 5′ x 3′ and installed is 10′ x 4′.
Fabric of Spacetime – The Story and Inspiration
My mom was a Navajo-style weaver. For decades she wove at the Damascus Fiber Arts School built in 1874 on the Oregon Trail outside Portland. She battled Alzheimer’s for 15 years until her death in 2014. She continued to weave long after she could no longer communicate verbally.
For nearly two decades I have manufactured architectural glass. I was chosen to participate in a residency at the Pilchuck Glass School a year after her death. During the residency I began exploring new materials beyond familiar glass and I ventured into a new realm. I merged my fascination of the wonders of deep space with the complexities of social justice.
Fabric of Spacetime began as a single-issue journey to address our family’s all-consuming connection with Alzheimer’s disease, and it unfurled into imagery highlighting the overwhelming forces tearing at the social fabric of our time. The lens through which I viewed this correlation revealed with clarity the incomprehensible beauty of chaos and compassion.
For more than three decades I have been an amateur astronomer studying mesmerizing images of deep space and documenting personal observations through my telescope. I have always been drawn to connecting the vastness of the cosmos with our relevance. This Navajo-style weaving intertwines the forces seen in our observable universe with the fragility of our social environment.
Slowly as my mind traversed this expanse, the features of Fabric of Spacetime began to appear. The warp is the vertical material held in tension on the upright loom. It is the hidden strength of a weaving. Instead of choosing traditional wool for the warp, I knew I would use stainless steel cable. Only this cable could represent the strength necessary to resist the forces exerting pressure on society.
The weft of a Navajo-style weaving is the horizontal material passing in front of and behind the warp. It is a combination of 1000 yards of satin ribbon that I dyed as a gray scale and 2000 LED-lit fiber optic strands. This gradation from light to dark, along with the random slits and fiber optics protruding from the fabric, accentuate the distortion of spacetime. A high-tension floor-to-ceiling installation apparatus further represents these unimaginable external forces.
I can think of no word to better describe this phenomenon we are encountering than continuum. With each passing day, the forces impacting society are not perceptively different; yet over time, the social implications are profoundly evident. It is my hope that this art weaves a story that resonates with many who can visualize and act to preserve the balance that smooths the fabric of space and time.
Photography by Brian McLernon Photography.