The distinctions between weaving and painting become nearly obsolete in Julia Bland’s epic wall works. Loom-woven textiles are patched and painted over in oil; bits of canvas and fabrics like silk, wool, and velvet are crocheted or sutured together; hand-braided ropes climb through the complex compositions that are often nearly 7-foot-tall squares.
The Brooklyn-based artist described the process behind her intricate, handcrafted painting-textile hybrids as “a series of events that combine and dissolve.” She added that “in the end, it is impossible to parse out what exactly happened or how, what came first or what came last.”
Although Bland said the images and patterns of her compositions arise from an inexact process of handling her materials, the colorful and complex works always seem to find order in their usually symmetrical, geometric structures.
But it’s the “rich and vast, and overwhelmingly deep” history of textiles that the artist finds most difficult to negotiate. “Tapestry can be a way of combining, referencing, contradicting, breaking, repairing, contracting, expanding,” Bland said. “The history is rich and vast, but we don’t have to relive it. We can make something different.”