When I first saw the textile work of talented artist Larry Weyand, I was particularly intrigued by their creativity. I was keen to find out more about Larry Weyand’s creative process and gain an insight into the inspiration behind their incredibly unique pieces. I am very excited to share what I found out, so here goes…
Hi Larry Weyand! Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your background please?
Well I am a rug hooker whose work defies all properties of traditional floor decor. I hold an MFA from Concordia University in Fibres and Material Practices. I am the Textiles and Material Practice visiting professor at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Newfoundland & Labrador. Last year, I taught weekly fine art and craft classes at the Naomi Centre, an emergency shelter for women aged 16-30 in St. John’s Newfoundland. Having grown up in both Montreal, Quebec and Biddeford, Maine, I do enjoy a good road trip.
Could you tell us a bit more about your art and some of the projects you have worked on?
My work addresses moments of stress, anxiety, panic, abuse, disagreement, anger, addiction, sadness, body dysmorphia, gender dysphoria and loss. My curiosity develops in the space where narrative, psychological resilience, mat making and domestic spaces intersect. I carry emotional baggage through this craft of resilience, each completed rug becoming an externalized record of compassion, understanding and acceptance. I investigate how hard-to-swallow narratives can occupy space within the soft, safe, fluffy boundaries of wool-based craft.
My last body of work explores how food iconography can be translated into rug hooking to create new meaning out of yarn through bright colours, humour, striking visuality, and fluffiness. As I pull each strand of yarn through meters upon meters of burlap, I rework my experiences with these foods and with my family’s traumas. I question how repetition in cloth can break destructive behavioural patterns passed down from generation to generation.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration stems from my family. I’ve particularly always wanted to understand why my grandparents acted in certain ways, and responded to situations the way they did. I investigated their behaviours through oral history, by interviewing my parents, my aunts and my uncles. This is how my last body of work came about.
Can you tell us about your creative process, what steps do you take when starting a new project?
The brightly coloured yarn and burlap take me where I need to go. In other words, I let the materials guide my process. I start with a concept, but mostly let the yarn take the lead.
Larry, we love the interesting textile pieces you create, what do you enjoy most about working with textiles?
Textiles are soft, textiles are safe, textiles remind me of my grandmother. The slow repetitive process of fibre-based techniques creates a mindfulness, a contemplative state which helps in the healing of the intergenerational traumas felt in my family. This is what I love about fibre-based practices.
Which textile artists do you love? Are there any that inspire you, past or present?
Currently, I am looking towards rug hooking artists who have pushed the boundaries of this medium. Laura Kenney, Louise Belbin, Nancy Edell, Hannah Epstein, Sister Ann Ameen, amongst many others.
Do you have a favourite piece you’ve created so far?
My Babybels. They are a series of 5 pillow-sized sculptural Babybels. They are very dear to me as I hold them in my arms tenderly.
Have you ever faced any challenges whilst creating a piece of work?
I’ve been experimenting with sculptural rug hooking, which is a very new and under explored territory of rug hooking. Sculptural works sometimes have a mind of their own and don’t want to bend to my will. I often have to start these works over, which is truly heartbreaking because of the amount of time that goes into hooking 1 square inch of rug.
What are you currently working on? Are you able to share any ‘in-progress’ photos?
I am currently working on a collection of 90’s based toys and candy which made me feel very uneasy about my assigned gender. As a gender neutral person, I always found myself uncomfortably engaging and purchasing items which represented girlhood and comradely amongst teenage girls. My first work of this series is a bright pink Tweedy Bird popsicle. I am currently making a fully functional Magic-Date ball (the pink, “girly” version of a Magic-8 ball) as well.
What’s next for you in terms of projects?
My current food-based work is on display at the Rooms in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. This body of work will be in Saskatchewan in the fall of 2020. My 90’s toys and candy project will be on display in New Brunswick this summer. I am currently working on another body of work where I am making full sized sculptural bathrooms, these are all rug hooked. These will be exhibited at the Craft Council gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador in 2022.
Larry Weyand, what advice would you give someone looking to get into art and crafts?
This might seem obvious, but you must make work that comes from the heart. When your work is genuine and you allow yourself to be vulnerable, this will show in your process. Others will notice and take a deep interest in what you are doing.
We are trying to be a bit more eco friendly in 2020. Do you have any tips or tricks to be more environmentally friendly in our day to day lives?
Artist Claes Oldenburg would stuff his giant soft sculptures with natural fibres. Therefore museums are now having a terrible time restoring his works because the natural fibres are quicker to disintegrate. My works are mostly stuffed with used plastic grocery bags because I now know that the stuffing in my works will last forever. I no longer have a giant pile of plastic bags hanging around which is great and my art will never need restoration!
Where can people find out more about you and your work Larry Weyand?
You can find more of my works on Instagram @larrycweyand or on my website www.larryweyand.com
Thank you so much Larry Weyand! It’s been great getting to know you! 🙂
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As always, happy rag rugging!
Just discovered the work of Larry Weyand today. So excited! Your blog and interview with him is very well written, and very insightful and thoughtful. I have signed up to receive more of your blog. I share a lot of art on my facebook page. Any chance of you making your interview with Larry Weyand along with the great photos of his work available to share? It’s a great way to educate people about the arts while celebrating artists and their work. Thank you. Sincerely, Carol Bretzloff-Holmes