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Away from perfection towards releasing emotion

My love for fiber art started during college when I was searching for found materials to use in my artwork. I came across a half finished needlepoint and was immediately drawn to it. It made me feel connected to domestic spaces and the women who so carefully curated their homes. 

Along with this new found inspiration, was my affinity for abstract expressionism. I was drawn to abstraction from an early age. There is something raw and immensely compelling to me about abstraction and specifically mixed media abstraction. I had tried for years to create works inspired by the likes of Rauchenberg and Twombly but felt stuck in the imitation of it all. It didn’t feel quite authentic to me. However, with this new element of fiber, the modality of my work was changed. I began painting using fiber. I was interested in how yarn can be manipulated to look like splashes and drips of paint; balls and tangles of thread to look like bursts of immediacy thrown down on the canvas. The abstraction of it all paired with these tiny stitches carefully placed, done in order to ornament a space, inspired the conversation of the domestic femininity of craft versus the male dominated realm of contemporary fine art. 

In my personal life, I had met a man and married young. I was fascinated by and in many ways, tried to emulate the idea of a traditional homemaker. It was what I was familiar with, what I saw in my own life from the women before me. Yet the more I concentrated on this idea of domesticity and femininity, the more I began to become disenchanted by it. The perfection of it all was too much for me.  I was also dealing with severe and undiagnosed mental health issues that made it very difficult for me to function normally through life. I found my art to be the one thing I had true control over and my aim was to subvert the perfect needlework that I was first drawn to. I could release emotion and energy into the work that I so craved while still holding on to the fiber element that made me feel attached to historical femininity. 

Then in 2020 I had a baby. My world and art practice was thrown off its axes. I could not think about anything but my child. My creativity was translated into raising him; making things for him, learning everything I could about him. This lasted for a good 3 years. I had no desire to create for myself until just recently. Getting back into my practice has been a challenge but now more than ever, I am invested in continuing to learn and grow from my practice. 

Alexis Zachhuber

IG: @alexiszachhuber


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