The WEAVE Residency Begins: Meet the First Four Artists

I'm pleased to announce the artist selected for our WEAVE Artist Residency cycle in 2022. With the help of Vale and Sarah, my job was to choose four applications from 186 incredibly creative and thoughtful submissions. Having read the variety of proposals, I am so inspired by the thoughtfulness displayed by each applicant on behalf of their community.

The overwhelming number of applications we received indicates the need for more opportunities such as this. We are committed to making future residency opportunities accessible to all artists through a free and simple application process. Please check back in January of 2023 when we begin accepting applications again.

This cycle, we have the wonderful opportunity of supporting four phenomenal artists from across the nation, all of whom are doing important and interesting work. We are pleased to announce this year's artists are below. Keep reading to learn more about each artist and the projects they will be working on during their residency.

Melvenea Hodges

 

Melvenea Hodges is a Fiber Artist residing in South Bend, Indiana. She creates clothing and accessories using traditional techniques such as block printing, sewing, weaving, spinning, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery.

In her early days, she began learning about fiber arts by experimenting with hair braiding, beading, and loom-free weaving. It was through these experiences that she found joy and realized her talent in creating with her hands. Not long afterward, she learned to crochet and sew through trial and error. 

In 2006 Melvenea earned a bachelor’s in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising from Eastern Michigan University.  

While Melvenea works with an array of fibers, cotton is the fiber that has sent her on a  journey of self-discovery as a fiber artist. She was inspired to begin growing, spinning, and weaving cotton as a way to reclaim an undocumented heritage of fiber arts as a Black American maker. Aside from its cultural significance cotton is a remarkable fiber that is a joy to create with. Melvenea finds tremendous joy in helping others learn n

New skills. In addition to teaching at a primary school, she connects and shares with other textile enthusiasts through social media and at her local weaving guild.

Melvenea’s mission is to honor and preserve our fiber arts heritage through practice.

She intermittently blogs about her work and traditional textile techniques on her website  www.traditionsincloth.com where she also offers handcrafted accessories and spinning supplies. She has also published articles with SpinOff magazine on techniques in working with cotton.

Melvenea's Instagram

Project: Live, Love, Weave


Live, Love, Weave aims to build community among people of diverse backgrounds, skill levels, ages, and lifestyles around the common thread of weaving.

Weaving can be done by anyone, anywhere, with everyday materials. My goal is to make learning to weave more accessible by teaching basic frame loom mechanics that are being used by weavers on every continent around the world. With just a sturdy frame, new and seasoned weavers can explore new weaving techniques and design fabric that speaks to their own personal aesthetic.

Community members can join me at the public library for a 1-hour simple frame loom weaving workshop or come to the Craft-Along hour. During Craft-Along, community members are encouraged to bring their latest fiber art project to share, design, or work on.  They can also come to connect and be inspired, by other crafters. 

 

People weave for many reasons.

A few are:

To connect with others

To express themselves

To gift and share

To innovate

To relax

To Honor their Ancestors

To sustain the environment

To persevere and carry-on

Through weaving, we can incorporate more of what we love and cherish in our daily lives. -Melvenea Hodges

 

Kesiena Onosigho

Image credit: Kesiena hosting Nature's Palette, a workshop on how to use color from nature. Hosted on Little Island in Collaboration with MoCADA .

 

Kesiena Onosigho is a textile & mixed-media artist and natural dyer. She was born in Reno, NV. She moved to New York City at age 17 to attend Parsons School of Design, where she graduated with a BFA in fashion design in 2011. Upon graduating she worked in New York’s fashion industry until she was recruited to join Nike’s Flyknit innovation team at their WHQ in Beaverton, OR in 2014. After returning to NYC in 2015 Kesiena began her artistic practice. During her formative years she traveled to Japan, China, and Europe cultivating a deep awareness of fiber and textiles. She currently lives and works in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Kesiena's Instagram

Image Credit: Molly Gillis, Kesiena standing in front of her Mixed Media  - "Yo, Word To The Mutha Series"
 

Through the study of materials and patterns Kesiena Onosigho intuitively explores textiles and a range of media to create atmospheric abstractions focused on intersectionality, as coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, engaging in themes of social & environmental justice. Kesiena's thought-provoking mixed-media collages and installations are informed by her lived experiences, curiosity, and the historic influence on arts & craft from people within the African Diaspora. Every work embodies her deep fascination with research, materiality and process and comes to life through her studio and innovative practice where she conjures up her own methods & tools to produce symbolic forms through the medium of foraged items, fiber types that are layered and fused to form abstract compositions. In contrast to the abstraction Kesiena engages in the interplay of poetic titles to challenge an audience to discover significance in unconventional places,  promote beauty in the already existing and challenge viewers preconceived notions of material and context.

Kesiena's goal is to foster rich dialogue and participate in acts of consciousness-raising, highlighting contributions to sustainability and craft from people in the African Diaspora, whose narratives are more complex, nuanced and abundant than their traditional representations. Looking to expand the dialogue of Blackness outside of the physical and visual structures of figurative painting, Kesiena energetically and unapologetically explores and confronts aesthetic perceptions. 

 

Project: Weaving Skies: An Outdoor Weaving Exploration

Image Credit: Molly Gillis, Kesiena standing in front of her Mixed Media  - "Yo, Word To The Mutha Series"
Weaving Skies - Outdoor Weaving Exploration, combines Kesiena's love of nature and textiles to explore sustainability, community and weaving. Kesiena will  weave a project inspired by daily color studies of the sky. Encouraging care and holding space for people from my community to learn how to make looms out of everyday materials so they can participate with their own weaving skies project.
Image Credit: Kesiena Onosigho Handmade Indigo Ink studies on handmade 100% cotton paper.

 

Sobia Ahmad

Sobia Ahmad is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores how our deeply intimate struggles of belonging can inform larger conversations about migration, the tenuous notions of home, personal memory, and cultural porosity. Exploring her ancestral knowledge, she reimagines craft rituals and intergenerational storytelling as acts of liberation. Ahmad has exhibited internationally, including at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art (Ithaca, New York), Craft Contemporary (Los Angeles), Queen Mary University (London), Museum of Craft and Design (San Francisco), and the Women Filmmakers Festival at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.). www.sobiaahmad.com.

Sobia's Instagram

Project: charpai

Guided by her aunts and grandmother, Sobia Ahmad is learning to make a traditional South Asian woven bed that was a stage upon which life unfolded in the courtyard of her childhood home in Pakistan. This object performs many functions in domestic settings; it is a daybed, a surface to clean rice or dry chilies on, a place to host guests, just to name a few. While an artist in residence with Gist Yarn, Ahmad will focus on weaving in a community setting to expand the functionality of the bed in a new context. Through this work, she is interested in asking: How does a culturally-specific object transmute materially and socially through memory and migration? Can this object catalyze conversations about rest and storytelling as emancipatory practices in a productivity-obsessed environment?

 

adé Oh (they/themme/àjé)

 

Image description: photo of black being from shoulders up with calm face looking straight on with clay brown background.

adé is an afrosurrealist, animist, and multimedia healing artist. Their creative fire is nourished by earth-based textile crafts, sound arts, experimental and abstract visual arts, nature writing, poetry, capoeira Angola, good food and healing herbs, river time, belly laughter, money, healthy relationships, and peaceful rest. they are a returning generation slow craft artisan and in 2014, made a lifelong commitment to cloth and tapestry weaving.

In 2020, they founded dièdiè textile farm and production studio which is currently incubating on collective land @TierraNegrafarms. They work with land and sky to grow and process plant-based fibers and dyes for the people. they are currently raising funds to help dièdiè become a worker/producer coop that provides raw and processed material and creative delights to their bioregion and beyond (DM themme if you'd like to donate, invest, and/or refer themme to reliable, unrestricted funding resources that you know of.

 

Image Description: side profile of black being with red pants and yellow top and a straw hat lovingly tending to indigo plants during the summer day

adé is a collective member of @durhamcommunityapothecary, is an artist-owner at @ampl3d, serves on the @PiedmontFibershed steering committee, and is the economic justice program director at @nccoalitiondv. they are shining with glee to participate in Gist Yarn's first WEAVE Residency

adé Oh's instagram

Project: dièdiè 

 Image Description: photo of black hand holding a fresh strict (bundle of raw fiber) of linen in the palm of their hand

dièdiè - which is interpreted from Yorúbà to mean ‘slow, gradual, little by little’. adé's project will focus on creating a community tapestry that will live as a woven reflection of the love, care, and story we give and receive to and from the collective land these textile materials are grown on. This season, adé is planning to build on the successes of last year by improving their bast fiber and dye growing and processing practices, in order to have enough farm-grown raw materials to spin and weave into the slow community cloth that will live on the land.

Throughout the year, they will hold 2 skill shares for their community to practice basic weaving techniques and learn about African and Indigenous weaving cultures. The samples they create will be hemmed into the large tapestry I weave for the land during their January - March 2023 residency. Their  independent practice during this time will involve developing advanced weaving techniques by upgrading from a rigid heddle loom to a 4-shaft table loom to bring more complexity and subtle detail into each pick.The finished piece will be prepared and gifted to the primary land stewards of the land they grew their materials on and hung in one of the community spaces there.

 


Image Description: 
photo of 2 Black  beings standing next to each other in front of a white structure with light brown doors. One is wearing a red hat and denim jacket and showing the other - wearing a tan coat with a green headwrap -  how to use a fiber brake - a tool for breaking the stem off of the fiber.