Rugs and Fabrics
2012 - 2020
Rug and Fabrics
From Artist Book text by: Bar Yerushalmi
Weave into the Fabric of Time
The Navajo people in North America tell the story of the Spider Woman, a primal figure that exists beyond time and space, her thousand hands spinning in the giant loom of creation, her fingers moving and fluttering between the infinite possibilities of life's reality, creating new stories and unraveling obsolete ones. With her dozens of eyes, she sees what has been and what will be. She is the great narrator who maintains the incessant movement of the universe as it emerges into existence. The Spider Woman taught humans how to weave, and in acknowledgement of this debt they leave a spider-sized hole in the center of each cloth. When European merchants first arrived in the continent and refused to buy the blankets because of the hole in their center, the Navajo weavers replaced it with a "spirit outlet" – a thin line that ran from the center of the cloth to its borders, delineating the spider's path.
Weaving is one of the earliest crafts in human history. Like many other myths and tales surrounding it, the figure of the Spider Woman wishes to tell us a bigger story – one that speaks the language of the people who created it. Yerushalmi takes on these mythologies in the series of paintings of cloths. She composes them little by little, insisting on the portrayal of every change, hue, and detail in the textile. The complexity of weaving, the moments of unraveling and tying, the design of the pattern, all receive the most meticulous treatment. She looks at the cloth as a kind of an intricate road map, which she attempts to decipher through painting, and like the Spider Woman, makes her way through the design patterns, searching for the hole through which she can get in and out.
Textile is among the first to succumb to the ravages of time, second only to the decay of body tissues. Unraveled or partly torn, full of holes and eaten by rodents, the painted textiles preserve all that is left of the dozens of hands that toiled and weaved for days and months. In her devoted care, the artist connects to the threadbare items, scouring them in search of veins of meaning. The textile is a testament of life, she claims; it recounts a tale that was lost in the recesses of history yet survived as a weaving pattern, a grid, or color lexicon. In her long conversation with this ancient craft, she salvages the fragments of culture that persistently embedded themselves in the threads. She cannot understand what they are saying – the language they speak is not her own, and so she awkwardly recreates the fragments of formal sentences on the surviving textile, a moment before they final unraveling by the toiling hands of the Spider Woman.