Wool Womb

Wool has become a large part of my life lately with my constant hand-spinning, visits to farms, sheep gazing on social media, and pop ups of sheep in popular culture. More recently, I had the great pleasure of seeing an artistic piece full of wool fibers by Emelia Black. It is on display in the annual Kuhlman Fiber Arts & Wearable Arts exhibit at Cornell University until November 10, 2016.

Emelia finishing up ‘Composure in RGB,’ 2016

Emelia’s ‘Composure in RGB’ draws inspiration from Frejya Sewell’s HUSH, which offers an escape from the busy, hustle and bustle of today’s world. Emelia’s work is differentiated by her allusion to her unique home landscape–the scenic green forests of the Pacific Northwest. She explains, “Mother Earth is our womb and place of composure.” Emelia bridges nature with fiber arts to evoke a sense of peacefulness and respite. The colors forest green, turquoise, brown, and black allude to the continuous connections of a forested landscape from the soil to the sky.

Wool is a core material of ‘Composure in RGB.’ Emelia explains the intersection of fashion and fibers, as well as the closed loop sustainable cycle. “Most of the fibers in our clothing are petroleum based blends. We can neither recycle nor compost these. Wool is a natural fiber that comes from the earth and can compost back into it, or be recycled back into new wool materials.”

The base of the womb-like pod structure is made with an organic compressed felt. She covered it with 150-yards of merino wool roving, as well as knitted wool and cotton yarns. Wool is naturally insulative and perfectly emanates a sense of warmth and comfort. Through the intricate knitted roving and yarns, Emelia left openings for onlookers to peak into the womb-like pod and view vein-like batik surface design patterning. The veins are reminiscent of tree branches, and symbolic of continuous life cycles that take place in the natural, organic world.

‘Composure in RGB’ by Emelia Black, 2016

The blue LED lights add greater dimension to ‘Composure in RGB’ by showcasing the individual fibers in the roving. As a natural fiber, wool is not uniform, it has variations like everything else in nature. The unique fibers come together as a whole to present us with a visualization of nature through wool. The LED lights also create different turquoise shades in the sky that are reminiscent of the sun, clouds, and passage of time during any day. This connotes color changes of a forested landscape from sun set to sun rise.

‘Composure in RGB’ is a masterful re-interpretation of Sewell’s HUSH as it invites us to consider how the artistic human hand and parts of the natural world seamlessly unite in a harmonious interior space. It is also a reminder that there is no ‘untouched nature’ since we are continuously intertwined with it physically and in spirit. After the exhibit is over, Emelia plans to place ‘Composure in RGB’ in her cooperative house, or the sewing studio for other students to enjoy as a peaceful space for rest.

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