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Episode 147: It's Not About Perfection But Expression with adé Oh

In this week's episode, LaChaun speaks with adé Oh (they/themme/àjé) an afro surrealist, 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, 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 Tierra Negra farms. They work with land and sky to grow and process plant-based fibers and dyes for the people. At Gist, we are lucky to support them as one of our artists in residence of 2022 and as a guest on the podcast this week.


adé's instagram

adé's sound art

dièdiè textile farm

afrosurrealist research bureau

Stephen Hamilton's podcast episode

Shenequa's podcast episode

adé harvesting flax to process for dièdiè production studio
adé starting a new netting project in the volcanic hills
flyer for the group experience: slow weave gathering 
adé with 2 slow weave dream participants


Sarah Resnick: I’m Sarah Resnick.

LaChaun Moore: And I’m LaChaun Moore.

Sarah Resnick: And we are the hosts of the Weave Podcast, a project of the weaving yarn shop, Gist Yarn & Fiber.

LaChaun Moore:Hello. Hi, everyone. I hope all is well and that you’re having a lovely spring season. In this week’s episode I’m speaking with adé Oh, 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, 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 the textile farm and production studio, which is currently incubating on collective land. They work with land and sky to grow and process plant-based fibers and dyes for the people. And at Gist, we are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to support them as one of our artists in residence of 2022, as well as a guest on the podcast this week. Hey adé. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us.

adé Oh:  Hello, LaChaun. This is my very first podcast, so shout out for being a first in my life. Thank you for inviting me. I’m very happy to be here.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely. And I’m so excited to talk to you about your overall artistic practice, as well as the residency that you’ve completed at Gist. It’s been amazing to experience your spirit, and your wisdom, and just the collective group that we had for the first round of the residency, and I’m just super excited to kind of close out last year with you, so can you start out by telling us a bit about your background and where you’re from?

adé Oh:   Yes. I want to first take a moment to just say hello to the future listeners to this. Peace be with you and all of your relations. Same to you, LaChaun. And shout out to all of the Black crafters known, and unknown, and to be known, that have really inspired me, guided me down this particular path right now. So, just real quick, weavers that I love, Diedrick Brackens, Stephen Hamilton, Shenequa Brooks, Karen Hampton, and then also a whole lineage, like a whole gaggle of Black poets and writers, just Black creators who really inspire and help activate my imagination into the creative person that I am today, and that I’m becoming. So, shout out to the present, past, and future of just Black and African diaspora makers. Y’all are amazing and I’m grateful to be in this community.

So, do you know, I am someone that does… My mind almost sometimes goes blank when I’m asked where I’m from and I recently, when I was thinking about how do I answer this question in a way that feels just grounded with my experience right now, I’m gonna say that my background is… Imagine like a lush and evergreen oceanic background, and that I recently watched a YouTube video featuring Taiye Selasi, and she was basically talking about that her experience is where she’s from, and that is something I deeply resonated with, thinking about my identity beyond the logic of the state and privileging the cultures that I’ve grown up with over the countries, especially being someone that believes that borders are a myth. And so, she talks about being multilocal and I relate to that, as well, so I grew up in PG, in Montgomery County, Maryland. Shoutout to the DMV. But you know, my people are [Yoruba 0:05:06.6] people in an area that is so-called Nigeria, and I’ve had a kind of dynamic class experience sort of across the spectrum of working class Black folks. So, that’s kind of where I’m meeting you today.

I’m currently a local to the central North Carolina, Piedmont region, and this has been a sweet space that has… I would say I’m growing up here. I didn’t spend my youth here but even as adults, we still be growing up, so-

LaChaun Moore: Right.

adé Oh:  Yeah. So, for this last kind of decade plus of my life, this area is where I’ve grown up, and it’s been a very sweet experience so far.

LaChaun Moore: I had no idea you were from the DMV, too. Did you know that I was from the DMV area?

adé Oh:  Say what? No, I did not.

LaChaun Moore: Yes. I’m from PG.

adé Oh:  What?

LaChaun Moore: I don’t know how we didn’t draw that connection. That’s crazy. Yeah, I was born in D.C., but I grew up mainly in PG County, so that was my whole life until I moved to New York for college.

adé Oh:   Yeah. My experience growing up in the DMV was dynamic. I never… I honestly have never… I’m like the first generation of children born in the States to my Yoruba parents, so this question of where you’re from has always been this liminal space that… Yeah, I’ve struggled to define. But I definitely, I think, moving out of that area started to develop more of an appreciation just for… Yeah, the metropolitanness of it growing up in like an urban scape, you’re just exposed to so much, and I just feel like it being like the capital of the U.S., there’s just always a lot happening politically, economically in that hotspot of an area.

And so, I definitely feel like I had a rich childhood because of where I grew up and how dynamic the social landscape was. Even though I wasn’t a kid traveling around the world, I was meeting the world there, and I loved that.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah, but that’s amazing. Or it’s interesting to hear you talk about just again this sort of connection to lineage, and space, and how you as an artist are a combination of many different things and experiences. And so, I’m curious if you can talk about maybe what was your first interaction with art, or how did you begin on this path to becoming the artist that you described yourself as growing into?

adé Oh:  Yes. It has been an errant road. Definitely not linear and not straightforward. I feel like I have… I’m definitely staunchly a multimedia creator. You will never put my in a box, okay? Nobody put me in a box. There was a time where I was like, “I need to choose the thing that I’m good at.” But then I started to connect to my multidimensionality as a gift that I wanted to learn how to accept about myself, that I’m just activated, and inspired, and motivated by so many different things, and my journey was gonna be figuring out how they interrelated, and kind of… Yeah, to bring more of this weaving language into this space, yeah, how they all were gonna be integrated into my way of expressing.

So, best to say that one of the things that has been part of my journey was when I was working more heavily in reproductive justice space as a birth and death doula, and I’ve had the gift of being invited into over 15 families’ birthing journeys, and have witnessed so many beautiful humans be born in all sorts of ways, and different spaces, and you know, just to really, truly answer that question, I think from the jump getting… Me and my mom collaborating to get me out of her body was a creative moment. Yeah. So, I would start there, just from jump, from birth, and I think I grew up with parents who really put heavy value on focusing on education, and not as… And this is something, I want to shout out the other cohort folks that I was with, Kesiena, Melvenea, Sobia, and I remember listening to Sobia’s interview and she was talking… I think she was talking about how her immigrant parents were wanting her to pursue these more serious careers that was not necessarily art careers, and I think that might be a shared experience for immigrant children living in Western worlds.

But yeah, I grew up with folks who were like serious education. Art is just kind of this frivolous hobby that might be great on your college application, but not like a serious pursuit. But my spirit was always wanting to make room for my creativity. I’d never been a great student. I got by, but I never felt like the status quo educational system ever met my needs as a learner or student. I feel like I just kind of fell in this void where I was getting by but wasn’t really feeling deeply interested in what I was learning, and I feel like my educational journey… The part of it that I’ve enjoyed the most has been outside of formal school settings and really living in the world and connecting to people, connecting to the earth, connecting to these different Black, African, diasporic healing, and art traditions.

So, throughout my time being forced to kind of participate in this formal education, I was always finding little sports for me to express creatively. A major fan of doodling. I take my doodle archive very seriously, like it’s one of those things that will be in my will when I die, like where do all my doodles go? And yeah, even through… I did decide… Actually, I don’t know if this was my decision, but I did make the decision to go to college because not everyone can, and I don’t necessarily think you have to depending on what your life’s path is, but it is a really formative experience. And so, I did the college thing, and I… If you know me today and try to guess what my major was, you would not guess it, because it was so… It was such a plastic… I don’t know if plastic is the right word, but yeah, I majored in economics, which you know, it’s interesting, I’m coming back around to economics but from a more socialist, eco-socialist, solidarity economy in the commons. Not so much capitalism economics, even though that’s what I was learning.

But even while I was getting my economics degree, any other chance I got I was really kicking it with the art kids. I feel like that is the space where I really started to develop my creative sense, and just being around folks whose whole college career was dedicated to making art just felt very… I was both envious and noticing like, “Oh, I’m so pulled towards this. Why do I keep holding back?” And so, you know, I think for a long time being an artist and a creator has been not the center of how I lived my life, but I feel like my spirit is crying out for some changes, so I’m definitely in this transitional life era where I’m wanting to give myself a chance to center my identity as an artist more.

So, I think there’s always been this seed inside me that due to the social pressures that I felt like I was receiving from my parents to be a certain way, from society to be a certain way, from the pressures of capitalism that really devalue art and creation, where it makes it really hard to feel like you can make a living wage and sustain a life or multiple lives on just craft. So, for different reasons it’s been in my life, but not the center point. And I think I’m… Yeah, reached a time where I’m like, “Well, actually being an artist is who I am, and how do I kind of restructure my life and routines to really honor that and see what’s possible when I center that?”

LaChaun Moore: It’s interesting to hear you talk about your previous background in education, or excuse me, in economics, and also how you’re kind of walking into this new space as an artist, because when I think about you, like meeting you for the first time, also reading your application, and just seeing other works that you’ve made, I felt like you were very centered as an artist. I know there’s another way to say that, but I feel like even the way you speak, you speak with so much intention, and I feel like every conversation I’ve had with you, there’s always this quality about it that feels very rich, and artful, and almost whimsical, so it’s interesting-

adé Oh:  Thank you.

LaChaun Moore: … to hear you. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s interesting to learn where you come from, and also to hear how your background is also maybe somewhat creeping up in a way, or you’re learning, or grabbing things from these previous experiences, and learning how to use them in this very new and interesting way. I’m curious if that feeds into the multidisciplinary aspect of your work.

adé Oh:  Yes. Okay, rabbit hole. We gonna have to rabbit hole… It’s gonna be a short rabbit hole, but yeah. And I wanted to share. When I saw this question, I was so happy you were asking it, because I was like, “How would I describe this in a way that protects the expansiveness that I feel?” I recently went to an exhibit at The Nasher. It was called Spirit in The Land. You could probably see some of the works online, but I was so… It kind of opened at this really beautiful, serendipitous time, but one of the installations there is from the Sea Islands photo series created by the Carrie Mae Weems. I feel like I have to put the before her name.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely.

adé Oh:  And a stunning installation. I mean, all sorts of things came out of that for me. But you know how they have the little description by the artwork in the galleries? So, they kind of started hers out with this quote that I feel like encapsulates how I feel, so she says, “I am nature imagining…” I’m sorry. She says, “I am nature imaging the natural world. Try as we might, we cannot separate ourselves from the very thing that we are.” And so, yeah, I feel that very much, that I very much follow whatever my creative instinct desires. I let it lead and definitely see my creative spirit and creativity as a being in and of itself that yeah, I get to play with, and get to know, and feel stretched by.

Well, let me speak to sound and textiles. So, right now I would say that sound and textile art are sort of the main focus areas of where I’ve been creating lately. What I love about them both, specifically when I say textile arts I mean right now weaving. And what I love about them both, what I feel like they have in common, is that they are these multidimensional experiences where I was just looking up a definition for weave and there’s like multiple ways to describe what exactly a weave is. But the one that I think I love the most, that brings that language of sound into it, is that to weave is to compose a connected whole by combining various elements or details.

And I feel like that has been part of my kind of thesis, or lifetime exploration, is like how to… The challenge of kind of pulling together these multitudes of inspiration, and ideas, and you know, warping it into something that I can make a little bit more sense of. And you know, weaving has always been this metaphor through all sorts of languages for a cosmic reality. We use weaving and all of the different words connected to that craft to describe life, to describe society, and relationships, and words like tapestry are often used to describe communities of different people. And so, the way I feel about the kind of expansive, poetic experience that I get from weaving, I also experience that in being a sound artist and a producer that… Kind of working with vibration, and frequency, and composing it in a way that creates an experience, and I love that pursuit of making sense of nonsense, and maybe unmaking sense of sense.

You know, it can get very metaphysical in my world. But yeah, I think that as a multimedia creator, I’m working in that sort of… To take a word from thermodynamics, entropy, which is like if you think about heat, and fire, entropy is like that chaos, the randomness, and the uncontrollable things that is kind of like the thrust behind life. So, I love kind of working with chaos to… Not necessarily to subdue it or to control it. Just to bring it into the sort of fractal focus. And I feel like sound is a great medium for doing that, and weaving has been, as well.

I don’t know. Did I answer your question? I have other thoughts about that.

LaChaun Moore: I think you did. I mean, if you will allow, would love to link to some of your work so people can see it, and-

adé Oh:  Yes.

LaChaun Moore: I understand what you mean. But I definitely would say that I understand what you mean in the sense that from the works that I saw, you use natural sounds, and elements, and just from different spaces, but they’re abstracted in a way, so it’s like maybe it’s the sound that’s familiar, but I don’t know exactly what it is, but it sounds like something different in this context.

adé Oh:  Yes.

LaChaun Moore: And so, I understand with how you’re describing your work, and I think it’s great, and it’s also interesting to think about that as it pertains to weaving. It kind of makes me think about the conversation that all five of us had last summer when we did our virtual retreat about weaving, and computers, and-

adé Oh:  Oh my gosh. Yes.

LaChaun Moore: I mean, even just now, the fact that computers are based off of a weaving sequence. It can be like a literal rabbit hole. We could talk about it in so many ways. But one of the things that I think about that I’m always exploring is indigeneity, and all of the ways that I’m doing things now that people were doing so long ago that worked so well, and were so brilliant, and we have so many things now, so much access to so many things, but I’m not sure that a lot of the things that I see are actual improvements.

adé Oh:  Yeah. As new as sometimes this practice feels to me in the scheme of time, I really picked up the craft of weaving seriously about six years ago. There was this intro to weaving course at… Yeah, this art center in the area that I went to with a friend who was also a weaving enthusiast, and we were like, “Oh, let’s go.” And so, we went, and I was like, “Oh, I’m in it. This is my fiber craft of choice.” Because I also realize that… We’re weavers, you know? We’re weavers. And so, this kind of latent attraction was instantly piqued because it felt so familiar to my blood, to my spirit, and the context of me coming into this craft is different in that at this time I’m not reliant on weaving as my economic stability. And I also am not weaving under… as an enslaved African. I’m not weaving to dress my family. So, my encounter with this craft has been initiated from a deep pleasure, and reverence, and curiosity about different ways to be in ancestral reverence and learn about myself and who we are. I think that a lot gets lost, obviously, through forced migration.

So, yeah, I think growing up with parents who are freshly from the motherland, I’m just encountering my ancestral lineage and culture differently from a Black person whose family has been in the States for generations. But you know, either way my people are weavers, and so I think that connecting to ancestral craft is what connects me to my indigeneity. Even as I wrestle with just how complex the… just how much settler colonization has displaced Indigenous people on Turtle Island. And that’s, I think, where I really stretch myself to center and honor my relationship to the land, and earth’s kind of natural resources, which I think is a value that Indigenous people around the planet move from, and that is an orientation that drives my world and my world view.

LaChaun Moore: It brings me to think about, again, another part of your practice, which is agriculture, farming, and textiles.

adé Oh:  At some point, especially as I was just being more politicized in my thought and intellect, and especially around abolition, Black liberation movements, Indigenous rights movements, ecological justice, just been deeply formed by the intellectual and cultural imprint and legacies of all the peoples involved in those present day waves of transformation. But I feel like through my experience of being politicized, I definitely, as an artist, which I think there’s a way to be an artist and not be politicized, but I’m really interested in what is the material kind of social impact of what I’m creating. And really being engaged, curious, and active around these questions of like what am I making? How am I making it? How does this kind of relate to me, what I’m of, and where I’m trying to go?

And I feel like that is where things can get very interesting. Because I feel like once you start asking questions about the origins of things, more questions rise to the surface. So, as a creator, kind of working across different mediums, I just naturally started to get curious about where my material sort of supplies was coming from. And the more I learned about this sort of broader global movement around really pushing back against polluting industries, especially the textile industry, I think Fibershed as an organization has done a really good job of raising this issue to the surface, and I also feel like this question of where our materials come from has always been a consideration for our ancestors.

And the more I was connecting to earth-based cultural practices, the more I felt like in awe of what the earth makes possible. I was doing food farming for a long time just as a farm worker on different people’s farms growing the most delicious food with Black folks, with folks across the people of color spectrum, with Indigenous folks, and I think my interest in getting to know what else the earth made possible just kept growing. And so, there was just this kind of like… How would I describe it? I don’t know. It was one of these things that maybe came in a dream, or just suddenly emerged. I was like, “Oh, we can grow fibers? Not only food?” There’s a history of people really working with the earth to not only feed themselves, but clothe themselves, to kind of… For making different containers, and just living a life so deeply entrenched in what’s made possible with the materials growing locally just really drew me in.

And also I feel like was a way that I was able to ground what I was learning kind of politically in a material way to shift my practice and really push myself to divest from a fossil fuel industry in how I create. As much as I could. I mean, I’m not perfect, and I feel like there’s a way that plastic has become so entrenched in our daily lives it is very hard to extract. But it’s a worthy pursuit for me, especially being I think… Like, holding this identity up as an artist, I do get to experiment with what’s possible and how it’s being created. And so, taking liberties to channel, like what would it take to really replace the ratio of fossil fuels in my craft, to transition that into materials that are more ecologically aligned?

So, that was… There was a lot of answers in there, but I hope you’re able to pull something out.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah. I mean, I think I can definitely relate. It sounds like you’re describing that you found yourself in the space to do the work, as opposed to you sought it out. It was kind of something very organic, which I think is probably the best way to find yourself in the beginning of a journey. And I think most people who end up working in agriculture, or in collaboration with nature, tend to find themselves there that way. Because I think that it almost requires that for many, many reasons. I mean, there’s spiritual reasons, and then there’s also just… For me, personally, there was a naivete, I don’t know if that’s how you say it properly, but I was super naïve, and being naïve isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I’m not using it as a negative trait, but you just don’t know. I had no real reference for how much physical work it was gonna take.

adé Oh:  Oh, lord.

LaChaun Moore: How much time it was gonna take. But I’m in it, and I’m doing it, and-

adé Oh:  And you know what? Yes. I think that’s the interesting part is the part of actually… Because there’s wild fibers growing everywhere. I think part of what makes agriculture agriculture is that it is sort of forcing the earth to grow in a way that it wouldn’t naturally. But… So, I would differentiate agriculture from just things in the wild, and so there’s like the practice of just learning the landscape for what it is, and what’s growing there, and working with that, and then purposefully cultivating certain plants to meet some kind of consumption need. So, I have been pleasantly surprised because I feel like growing fibers is relatively simple. The growing of it. And the labor really comes after you harvest, which I feel like is kind of the other way with food, which is you need a lot of inputs to grow the food, and then once it’s grown, you know, for the most part you can eat a lot of staple items raw if you want to or whip them up.

But yeah, I would say that the kind of labor that comes after you harvest is what I’ve been so in marvel around and challenged by. And humbled by, as well, for sure. It’s similar to anyone that maybe is new in their food or farming journey and learn a food that they’re used to eating, learn what it looks like as a vegetable. And they’re like, “What? That’s a vegetable.” And like, “That vegetable turns into that?” I feel like… Yeah. That was my experience when I first started to learn the seed-to-cloth cycle of like, “Say what? You can grow flax?” Remembering… Just I think really finding joy in remembering those first exposures and the whole world that it opens up.

But yeah, I think when I first learned, “Okay, you can learn flax, and then process it,” and then actually going through the motions of rotting it, and then letting that dry, and then breaking it, and then learning how to spin it. Each step is a craft in and of itself.

LaChaun Moore: Absolutely.

adé Oh:   And so, you know, honestly, what I am not so… This is something I’ve been saying to myself recently because sometimes I do feel this pressure to be really good at something, or prove myself to some external force to be worthy of whatever the fuck and what I think matters to me, coming back to what matters to me, is not perfection, but expression, okay? That’s a quote, okay? And it’s just brought me a lot of peace in that I get to take my time in really relating to this process, and this circularity of earth-based practice that takes time, and I want to take my time, and I think this is why I am so committed to craft, and I think I definitely am an artist, but I also want to be able to see myself as a craftsperson.

And not in like the frivolous art and crafts way that they be selling to us at Michael’s Arts & Crafts Store, but like… And Michael’s is not sponsoring this podcast, and no shade to Michael’s, or any hobbyist out there, but I think the word craft, what it activates for me is this permission to go slow, and I cherish that, and that is what I will always protect in my creative endeavors, that what makes craft craft is that it needs to go slowly. Yeah. There’s something that’s common across farming in general. Unless you’re using GMO pesticides and all that sort of stuff, things are gonna grow when they grow, and you kind of plan your life around these natural rhythms.

And I’m into that. I think in my sort of practice of figuring out how to decapitalize my life, I’m into going at a slower pace. You know, with all of this ecological breakdown happening, I think that is the call for, or invitation, for all of us to figure out what that looks like in our lives. And yeah, it’s almost like we’re not going slow enough, like we need to go slow faster than we’re going slow. Which is a very odd, paradoxical thing to say, but-

LaChaun Moore: It’s so true, though.

adé Oh:  Yeah. Yeah.

LaChaun Moore: We need to go slow faster. Absolutely. Yeah. Especially as it pertains to our global issue with consumption and waste, you know? It’s like we have the knowledge, we know a few of the ways that we can fix it, so it’s like we should… You know, when we think about how quickly the fast fashion industry took off, we should be able to undo it, you know?

adé Oh:  Right. Yeah.

LaChaun Moore: And in a timely manner. But it’s good to hear you talk about craft, and slow making, because it reminded me of your project for the residency.

adé Oh:  Yes!

LaChaun Moore: I remember you pronouncing the name, but I don’t want to pronounce it wrong. I would love if you would pronounce the name and then just also talk about the project that you worked on as a resident.

adé Oh:  Yes. Oh my gosh. What a fun time, y’all. Truly, truly, truly. Very grateful to have found out about it, and applied, and y’all said yes, and yeah, I had such a good time, and I also want to quickly shout out Keisha Cameron, hello, who’s in your current cohort, and such a dear sweetheart in my life, so I’m gonna pause gushing about you right now. But yes, very happy to see you in the next cohort.

So, the space that I was holding for my residency was called dièdiè, and dièdiè is the name of my textile farm and production studio practice, and so the vision was really to hold a slow weaving learning space for a handful of people that signed up. And I think in terms of how this residency kind of created space for me to stretch my own skill and capacity around being an educator, it was time for me to also think about how I think about weaving as a cultural practice, as a craft practice, as a way to connect to our bodies, so it was really centered on me being in the process of developing a pedagogy of weaving that centers our embodiment. And I feel like that is definitely a value that I carry with me in all dimensions of my life. You know, going slow enough to notice how I feel, to notice my surroundings, to practice a kind of presence, and so it was a five week experience together where I worked with Rebecca Mezoff’s tapestry weaving book that is really great, and used that as one of our literature guides, and so made those copper looms for everyone, and then we just spent five weeks working on people’s first little tapestry piece.

And I had a blast. I mean, my intention was to insert this sort of fun but mindful and healing energy into the practice of weaving, so we kind of went through an intro to tapestry weaving, and then I shared some basics that have been helpful for me in developing as a weaver, and then really invited folks to sort of decide and work with their intuition around what they wanted to create by the end of the five weeks. And the beautiful thing is that not everybody finished their weave, or they finished it after, but my intention was to collect people’s tapestries if they wanted to share and then weave those pieces into a larger tapestry piece.

So, that is what I’m in the process of integrating right now, and because of this residency I was also able to afford to get my first floor loom, so that’s been a really sweet growing edge for me, as well, because there’s the act of weaving, which is really specific. It’s like weaving is this particular textile structure that relies on a warp and a weft, which makes it what it is, but the way weaving is done across the world can be really different, and my people, Yoruba people, culturally the floor loom is not originally what we were using, and so I was also really grateful for Stephen Hamilton to… I would say that his workshop visit was like a prequel to my residency. I was able to get him to come down to North Carolina and teach a group of Black folks the upright weaving loom tradition. And he is a well of knowledge, and so I think there’s different assignments that I have in my journey of weaving, and it involves both kind of learning the technical aspects of weaving when it comes to which loom do I want to use to do this thing, and then the more cultural and spiritual sort of poetic elements of weaving that shape my approach, and are shaping this pedagogy that I want to develop and be able to continue to share with people.

But yeah, the five week group was really lovely, and I intentionally chose this late wintertime because folks are still in the sort of hibernation vibe, and weaving is one of those textile processes, maybe all of them are kind of like this, that can be deeply meditative and introspective, and so it felt like a really good activity to organize people around and sort of each session we would set an intention and share stories. So, I haven’t talked much about that, but I do feel like just… Yeah, the craft of storytelling and stories gets so activated through weaving.

We are so lucky to have her as an artist in residence, as well as a guest on the podcast this week. Hello, Sobia. Thank you for joining us today. That was a major highlight for me. I think every session something new came out from folks just around what weaving was sort of activating in their memory, that it has this way of awakening the spirit. I don’t know.

And it’s not everyone’s textile craft of choice, which is funny. I feel like for some folks weaving is just not it. Because it takes so long to make the warp, and it is labor intensive, but I don’t know. I guess I’m just drawn to tedious, labor-intensive things, to be honest. Like I mentioned at the beginning, it’s just interesting how the woven pattern is everywhere in our daily lives, and is so significant, and keeps a lot of our life together, and so I think also just having this appreciation of how much of my material reality is woven is… Yeah. Part of why I’m also drawn to this particular craft.

LaChaun Moore: And I also wanted to add before we move on, Stephen Hamilton, so for people listening, if you also haven’t listened to Stephen Hamilton’s episode, it’s amazing. It’s episode 61. He speaks with Sarah, and it’s called Reclaiming Weaving, Dyeing, and Wood Carving with Stephen Hamilton, and there are also images of the upright loom that you were talking about.

adé Oh:  Yes. Oh, amazing.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah. And then also you mentioned Shenequa, who was also on the podcast, and she was on episode 51, so if y’all haven’t listened to that, it was also another amazing episode and it was called Learn to Rest, Not to Quit. So, I would highly suggest y’all check those episodes out, as well.

adé Oh:  Oh my gosh. I’m taking my notes over here too. Okay.

LaChaun Moore: Yeah.

adé Oh:  Amazing.

LaChaun Moore: That’s amazing. And it was really cool to hear about all of the gatherings that you were having, and it’s also been nice to learn that you are working with people who are also gonna be a part of the Gist Residency in the future. It’s such a beautiful full-circle moment and I’m just so grateful that you exist as an artist, and that you’re creating these spaces, and I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to witness it, and also that Gist could provide some support to the work that you’ve been doing, and that I know that you’re gonna continue to do. I’m curious if you have any new projects that you’re working on that you’d like to share with our listeners?

adé Oh:  Yes. Yes. I would say they’re like continuations of things. One long opera. I’m not actually working on an opera, but just one long lifetime of art. Yeah, so every summer I release a mixtape that is a mix of beats that I’ve produced from different samples I’ve either collected or chopped up, and some new folk songs that I’ve made up just being in relationship with the earth. The earth be giving songs, y’all. If you’re not listening, start listening. And you know, I didn’t get to go deep into this, but deep listening and having a daily relationship and presence to sound is a huge part of my creative process, whether or not I’m sharing it. But every summer I release a mixtape and it’s called Black Noise for Black August, and it is a sonic ode to the Black liberation spirit of Black August, and some of the proceeds that I get from selling the mixtape, a percent of them goes to Prison Radio, which is a really awesome radio project to record and archive the writings, thoughts, and speeches of different political prisoners.

And then a couple other Black liberation organizations that sometimes I just decide that summer, but Prison Radio has been a project that I care a lot about and it feels right to kind of share the proceeds of this mixtape with that project. So, definitely check that out, and I am in the process of slowly building out dièdiè textile farm and production studio, so this season I’m mostly focusing on what it takes to become a kind of local textile production kind of hub. And it’s a slow process because it requires many parts, but it's also been very satisfying to pursue and is part of this broader global movement to imagine relocalizing our fiber and textile systems with the same kind of energy and resource that we give to localizing our food systems.

So, as much as I get personal pleasure from this, it’s deeply rooted in a kind of collective liberation framework that… Yeah, I look forward to sharing with others. So, that is coming up, and in between time, something I cherish so much is just space and time to practice, and I feel like practice is what artists are doing most of the time, and then you see the results of their practice, so I’m wanting to make more time for practice, and study, and inspiration, and time to just do nothing in particular, and just let what I’m feeling inspired by work on my spirit and see what comes from there.

So, that is what’s next, and then if you’re interested in getting seasonal… what I call news poems, so different from a newsletter, but similar to a newsletter, just in a more poetic format, you can sign up for my news poem called Ether and you’ll hear from me at least once every season, whether it’s about local things I’m doing, or more expansive ways for you to connect and get involved. That is another way to stay in touch.

LaChaun Moore: Beautiful. It’s been really amazing to have you as a resident and also just to meet you, and to be in conversation with you. I think that you have such a beautifully rooted practice and spirit about yourself, and I’m just so excited that artists like you exist, and I can’t wait to see how your project grows, how your farm grows, how your everything grows, and you supplied us with lots of jewels and gems, but I’m wondering if you have any advice or words of wisdom to share with weavers and textile enthusiasts?

adé Oh:  Yes. Oh my gosh. I also want to just say thank you to you too, LaChaun. You’ve been an amazing steward of this project and have been such a lovely source of encouragement, and yeah, permission to just really design the experience that I want to have, so appreciate you. And to the weavers out there, what’s up? We doing it. And I think I mentioned this earlier, but I want to come back to something that I say to myself anytime I get caught up in perfection, or feeling like my weavings, the things I need to create need to look a certain way, or meet some other standard outside of myself, that it’s not about perfection, but expression. So, when you center just what truly you’re feeling inspired by, how it comes out will always be just what is needed.

LaChaun Moore: Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us.

adé Oh:  Yes. Thank you. Thank you.

LaChaun Moore: And that’s a wrap. If you’re interested in reading a full transcript of this week’s episode or to see images and find links to adé’s work, as well as the artists and projects we mentioned in this episode, visit the show notes at www.gistyarn.com/episode-147. As always, it’s such an honor to bring these conversations to this platform. I am so grateful for your continued support. I hope you all have a lovely spring season and move peacefully into the summer. Until next time, happy weaving!

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