By Calvin Berry
This weekend, Poketo had the privilege of hosting prolific fiber artist Meghan Shimek, giving her the chance to connect with the Los Angeles creative community. After teaching two outstanding workshops on Saturday at the Line Hotel, she held a show at our Arts District location, where she demonstrated the techniques she uses to craft her beautiful wall hangings by weaving an original piece in front of a captivated audience.
Meghan works primarily with roving, wool fiber that has yet to be spun into yarn, and her artwork has a raw expressiveness that parallels her material of choice, using natural textures and color contrasts to imbue each emotive piece with a distinct sense mood and movement. Watching her hands work expertly over each hanging as she weaves and twines the roving yard by yard is like watching someone uncover her own feelings, expressing their subtleties and intricacies in ways both surprising and deeply familiar.
After finishing her live demonstration, she was able to answer questions from the crowd and mingle with those who had gathered to appreciate her work. As natural a teacher as she is an artist, Meghan is gracious enough to share her expertise freely with others, spreading the practices and traditions of weaving and fiber art to new communities of artists and designers. In the spirit of this creative exchange, we took the time to ask her a bit about her craft, her inspirations and where she thinks her art will take her next.
What made you gravitate towards the art of weaving?
I had always been interested in fiber art–knitting, crochet, sewing–but I had never found a medium that I felt I could explore my own personal creativity with until I found weaving. I like that I can work with so many materials, and the medium makes sense to me. I find myself thinking about weaving in so many different ways. Since discovering weaving I have also expanded my practice to include other fiber arts and have become more and more interested in working with roving, the main material I use, in different ways.
What is currently inspiring your work the most?
I am currently working on a project that explores our bondage to the earth, our lives, materials, objects, humans, animals, and our place in the world. We all choose to bind ourselves to different things, but how does that inform our lives, what brings us joy, pain, challenges, education? Are there things we bind ourselves to out of responsibility? What does it look like if we strip it all away and get back to basics, start over and choose carefully and thoughtfully what we want to bind ourselves to–what will our lives look like?
Are there other mediums you’re interested in exploring?
I am always interested in exploring other mediums and integrating them with fiber arts. I recently completed an artist in residence at Local Language Arts in Oakland, California. They have large scale printers and we printed images on top of my woven works. The printers can only print on surfaces up to two inches thick, so we had to build boxes for the weavings and use chicken wire, fencing, and screens to hold the weavings into the boxes. It resulted in an interesting dynamic between the wool and the print. We did a series of protest art as well, writing protest phrases on the weavings. Fiber art is often seen as women’s work, and it feels important for this kind of art to represent the civil discourse happening currently.
What’s next for you?
Next month I will be traveling to Brazil to teach, and when I return I will be recording an online course. I plan to teach more this year than I did last, but am also looking forward to more gallery shows, as well as exhibiting the work from The Artisans (the exhibition I had in Paris in November) at a museum in Marseilles in a few months. I, personally, am interested in exploring more sculptural and performance art in tandem to the fiber art.
You can find Meghan’s work, including the piece she created at her show, exhibited at Poketo’s Flagship store in Arts District through the end of March. You can also purchase original pieces by Meghan at poketo.com/exclusives