December 12, 2017

Interview with Weaver Rachel Snack of Weaver House Co.

Tell me a little but about your background, Rachel, and about how you started weaving.
I started weaving during my undergrad at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Before that I had been painting and making ceramics, but there was a serendipity that happened the first time I sat down at the loom – I never really went back (although lately I’ve been itching to try my hand at ceramics again…).

I fell so hard for weaving I ended up graduating with a degree in Fiber & Material Studies and immediately went into textile conservation. I had an opportunity to work on a project re-weaving/conserving a collection of rare Navajo rugs, and in the process learned about conversation for museum collections.

After a while I had the travel itch – and to be honest, textile conservation can be extremely tedious and boring – so I applied for an Artist Residency in Peru. While I was in Peru I worked for a non-profit called Awamaki, collaborating with a women’s weaving cooperative to design fair trade textiles. Towards the end of my residency I began to envision what I wanted to do when I returned home, and as I started the interviewing process I realized I had no desire to head back to a ‘corporate’ position. So, Weaver House Co. was born.

Weaver House Co is…
My passion project. Weaver House has looked very different throughout the years, and has evolved into a company I am very proud of. I have spent a lot of time trying to properly articulate what exactly Weaver House encapsulates, and I believe my most recent mission statement does just that:

We create heirloom textiles in homage to craft tradition, and the dialect between maker and loom. Our practice is grounded in the idea of growing a tangible language, to regain tactility and a hand-making consciousness into the home and onto the body. Our textiles create a physical memory bearing witness to the hand of the artist, becoming material evidence of touch. Our weavings record, through repetition and routine, as memory vessels forever preserving our identities in material culture.

The Weaver House studio is founded in kinship with communal collaboration, weaving education, and creative gathering. We believe in the preservation of the space we inhabit by sustainable making and transparent production. We use our materials thoughtfully, dye naturally, and consciously recycle.

What do you love most about working with your hands and what attracts you to weaving as a creative medium?
I can’t exactly explain it, but I am able to create on the loom in a way I’ve never experienced before. After I made my first weaving (which my grandparents proudly display in their living room) I knew I was a weaver – and even now, when I am absent from the loom for too long – I miss it. It’s become inherent in not only my artistic practice, but also in my daily life.

What is your creative approach to selecting the color palette for each new piece? 
I am often asked this question and although it might sound flippant, my process is completely intuitive. I am such a planner and type ‘A’ personality in general, it surprises most people to know this about my design process. I relate it to dancing – I know the parameters of my project (steps), and within that I am able to create spontaneous design decisions based on texture and shape. However, if you’ve ever spent time looking at my work you will know my go-to: neutrals (cream on cream crime).

Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in text and narrative. I often conceptualize my weavings as translations of text – themes of land, personal value, the grid, body & breath (rhythm), tactile blueprint, sacred space, memory and stillness.

I also tend to look at contemporary painting and sculpture – Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, Joseph Albers, Sol LeWitt, Joseph Beuys, Carl Andre, Mark Rothko etc.

What does “being creative” or “creativity” mean to you?
Making has always been an outlet for me, and I’ve been creative since I can remember. I find it hard to grow as an individual if I am not practicing creativity – whether that is with my hands, through my thinking, or as an approach to a new project or collaboration.

Are there any artistic or life philosophies you abide by?
I love the saying ‘when given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind’. It’s easy to forget to think outside yourself, and especially now with everything that is happening politically – we, as the collective, need to fight (and damn hard) but we also need to remember to be kind to one another.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the relationships and collaborations I’ve been able to forge with like-minded artists and makers. The weaving community is one of the most giving groups of people, and I am so proud to be part of it. I also love that I can weave in my pajamas while blasting Ciara whenever I feel like it.

What was the process in writing your book, Place, and what inspired you to do so?
Place (Sacred Space): Without Beginning or End was originally created as a take-away for my thesis exhibition, Textile Language. In May, I graduated from Philadelphia University with a Master of Science in Textile Design. My thesis concluded with academic writing, a published book (the aforementioned), and an exhibition of my woven work.

I opened a call for submission to writers and weavers, asking them to contribute words and poetry on the topics I was addressing in my written thesis. Sixteen artists were selected, and their writing was published alongside images of my weavings. I decided to list the book for sale online after I received requests from my collaborators and peers, and was honestly taken aback by the popularity it received. It’s a tiny thing, but I’ve come to understand the appreciation for a collection of writing that is so thoughtful and inspiring – I really owe it to everyone who took the courage to submit personal and honest pieces.

How have you created a space in your design studio that is conducive to your creative workflow?
I have a hard time creating in a space that lacks positive energy and/or supports my aesthetics. I appreciate an ‘organized mess’, something that is structured but cozy. The apartment I most recently moved into in New Hampshire is my favorite home studio space yet – hardwood floors, white walls and lots of natural light.

What makes you feel at home?
People and community. Feeling grounded. The Jersey Shore (the actual beach, not the TV show).

Who are your favorite artists/creators that you admire and why?
I admire anyone who creates art with originality and honesty. Art is about emotion – and for me, beauty – so I admire anyone who can make something beautiful, that is also conceptually driven and emotionally stimulating.

Connect with Rachel: Website // Instagram
Watch a Rachel in action: Vimeo Link

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