Andrea Donnelly is a North Carolina-based textile artist. Her handwoven cloth evokes deep emotional responses, whether she is depicting a female figure, flowers, or mysterious inkblots. It’s easy to get lost in the intricacies of her designs. Her exhibition We’ve Met Before is on display through January 28, 2018. She invited Circa into her studio to give us an in-depth look at her creative process, revealing a few secrets along the way!
Circa: Welcome, Andrea Donnelly.
AD: I love sharing the details of the intricate processes behind my handwoven artwork, so thank you, NCMA, for giving me the chance! I want to share a very important part of my studio space, the loom room. I spend countless hours seated at one of these three benches, weaving artwork by hand one thread at a time. It might sound tedious, but I love it. The meditative qualities of the weaving process are an important part of my finished work. I like to have three projects on the looms at all times but will typically focus on one, while I daydream and mentally problem solve and plan the other two. On the left-hand loom is one of my woven inkblots; the middle loom holds a large-scale deconstructed text piece; and on the right loom I’m weaving a poem in braille.
Circa: What draws you to weaving an art form?
AD: For me, it is a wonderful blend of rigorous, rigid, technical, and math-based processes, with a literal and metaphorical softness and pliability of material and conceptual potential. I love learning and mastering the rules of the loom, and in doing so, I get to break them in the unexpected ways that create my artwork. It’s a unique and inspiring way to create.
Circa: Would you talk about one of your favorite creations?
AD: I’m going to share a secret. Did you wonder what’s going on in that magical piece A Catalog of Wishes (Asclepias Syriaca)? Those little milkweed seeds you see on the front of the piece were actually woven through cloth on my loom before the piece was assembled. It was so fun and wonderful to make this piece. Little seed puffs were flying all around the studio for weeks. They get woven puff-side up, so this is what I was looking at as I wove. Truly magical!
Circa: Anything you'd like to add?
AD: I want to leave you with what I think of as a studio moment. As a weaver I get to witness some truly beautiful moments that occur with my materials and processes on the way to making a finished work of art. In this image, I am unweaving a woven text piece, and the sun has just caught the loose threads spreading out from the loom. This is the same process I use in a lot of the work that’s up now in We’ve Met Before. I hope you can simply enjoy this magical moment that happens on the way to making a piece of art!