top of page

Fiber Art Feminism at Powell Lane Arts, New Jersey

Updated: Jul 5

"I thought about that history of fiber art being women's art, and the way that that hasn't been valued the same way. It's interesting too because I feel like fiber art so essentializes what is archetypally feminine: the softness, the tactileness. It's a very embodied, sensual experience where it's not just in your head but it's also the clothing on your body, your experience of interacting with it."

I’m very excited that I have two macrame pieces up at Powel Lane Arts over in Collingswood, New Jersey! I’m a Philadelphia-based fiber artist, but it’s exciting to expanding my reach into New Jersey, because I think my aesthetic will resonate with some of the culture over there. It was a delight to talk to the owner of Powell Lane Arts about my pieces. We discuss the intersection of fiber art and meditation, feminism, and my process as an artist. You can watch the full length video here or read the transcript below.




"I love how the meditative quality that I experience through the process is also portrayed visually at the end. I think when people put my art up in their spaces it feels a little bit more peaceful."

Caroline

Hi, Caroline Kearney here at Powell Lane Arts, and I'm with the amazing Aleena Glinski in front of one of her two pieces which will be in our materials matter show from now through August 4th. Aleena, can you introduce us to your piece?


Aleena

Sure this is Sonoran dream. It's a macrame wall hanging that I dyed with squid ink. All of my pieces are dyed with either plant dye or something natural like squid ink and most of my wall hangings also include a nice bronze medallion that I hammer myself and shine up like that, and this wood is reclaimed, so that is a little bit about the material. 


Caroline 

So you are the first macrame artist that we're showing, and even for macrame you have a lot of different inventive ties and wraps and the way that you are alliding through and moving the knots across; how do you 1. determine your composition and 2. how do you get started?


Aleena

I have a lot of different styles. I've done a lot of different types of pieces, and this is the second of this style that I've done before. I started out wanting kind of like a border, so I did a set of knots that go across the top because I thought that might be a nice framing, and I'm really interested in line art. I do a lot of painting and drawing that's sort of like line art and so I wanted to try to transfer that onto a large wall hanging. I just really enjoy the process of trying to make the lines really smooth and flow together and for this piece I was inspired by a friend of mine who's also a line artist, by one of her paintings, and she actually commissioned my very first ever piece like this because she likes this style, so it's sort of an ode to my friend Jordan. And I thought it would be cool to try to add color to the lines to make it even better, like more like the line art, because I haven't done that before and then I like these big loose knots as a way to add texture to the different pieces. I originally considered trying to add color to each section, so maybe painting like kind of like a red and like a yellow, making it more like that but I thought that the black and white made it a little bit more elegant and that the texture would serve that well.


Caroline

Also it really draws your eye to the curvilinear mark making that you're doing and also allows for depth because each section like even when you're doing the knots here the lines are relatively straight but they're delineated by the slight difference in the knot makes and so it has a nice dimension that you can see really well because you have left it somewhat raw, but I mean raw in a good way. How long have you been doing this and how did you get started?


Aleena

Well I suppose I've been doing macrame proper since 2020, but ever since I was a kid at summer camp I would always make those little friendship bracelets.


Caroline 

Oh yeah


Aleena

Which is the same exact thing on a smaller more colorful scale, so yeah, I would say about that long, and after I started too, I realized when I started doing more and putting myself out there, my aunt was like, “I used to do that in the 70s!”


Caroline 

Exactly.


Aleena

So I was like, ‘wow this is actually a family thing that I didn't even know I was part of.’


Caroline

When I was a little kid in the 80s I remember aunts having macrame wall hangings and macrame to put pots in and now it's coming back, but yeah I remember that being a really big thing.


Aleena 

I started with plant hangers because I needed more vertical plant space.


Caroline

One hundred percent  and also it's like a hanging plant but prettier, like it's just making it fancy. I also like that this both looks like a line drawing but it looks like a line drawing of a mountain range and even the Bronze medallion acts almost as a bright sun within it. I really like - may I touch it?


Aleena

Yeah of course! 


Caroline

I really like the combed - do you call this yarn or you call it ?


Aleena

I call it rope.


Caroline

The combed rope down here which I think is really beautiful. I think that one of the things that I enjoy about this is it looks on the one hand it looks very finished, but at the same time you can see the process within it in a way that sometimes you have to investigate a little bit more, but you can literally go up to this and see what did she use here, what did she use here, but the thing that is the aspect that is unique and intrinsically you is that I love how you have thought about traveling the line throughout. Do you decide where this is going to be beforehand or do you decide as you're doing it?


Aleena

Yeah so I started out with the little drawing on paper of how I wanted the piece to be to kind of figure out the ratios and everything and then I got a really big piece of paper you use for mail and stuff that I put behind it.


Caroline

That's a great idea 


Aleena

and I drew the lines so that I could follow them.


Caroline

That is a great idea. It's almost like you do this professionally.


Aleena

It took a while to figure out, because I initially would just try to eyeball it, but then would often have to go back and redo things.


Caroline

one of the amazing things too is that there is such great tautness between everything and also - I assume you trim at the end - that it is very nicely flat and yet it has this great movement to it which is something that you can only get from macrame that you would have a line drawing that moves in such a way. I think this is really, it's a piece that you could stare at all day I think.


Aleena

Thank you.


Caroline

And there's something both interesting about it and restive for your mind because you've given us, you've given us lots of content in terms of rope but kept the composition simple and elegant so that our brain can kind of… I'm traveling through it and then I'm coming back.


Aleena

That's one of my favorite things about this as well. Like for me macrame is very meditative, like the tying of the knots, similar to probably any fiber art 


Caroline

Yeah


Aleena

like knitting or crocheting or whatever it is, but I love how the meditative quality that I experience through the process is also portrayed visually at the end, like I think when people put my art up in their spaces it feels a little bit more peaceful.


Caroline

Yeah and that absolutely makes sense to me, because I think something that people who don't meditate miss about meditation is that you're supposed to be finding a center, but it's that you're letting your brain kind of wander through these paths while drawing it back to center and this in that same way is like a lot of tiny threads in your brain that you're drawing back to a center.


Aleena

Ooo I love that.


Caroline 

So sorry if that was too… too… not hippity dippity… Woo woo? I don’t know. I meditate.


Aleena

I’m actually a meditation teacher too.


Caroline

You are? That, that absolutely makes sense. I like meditating. And also thoughtful cleansing. and this is very cleansing feeling. like it feels like a cleanser for your brain. It's a nice restive


Aleena

You made me think too about how so often fiber is like a metaphor for the threads of our lives and how we're all woven together.


Caroline

Oh yeah and I always think of the fates and like where they were weaving the yarn. something I also always think about with fiber art is it is one of the oldest forms of art and also one of the things that I contemplate a lot is - and my mom does too because she's doing a series on it's called The Blanket Party it's about women who've been blanketed by art history - is a lot of the work - and I just saw the show called Making Her Mark and it talks about this is a lot - of this kind of detailed meditative fine motor skill like making fiber art was some of the first art that people displayed in their house but also it was done by women


Aleena 

Yes


Caroline

and it was considered something like it was highly skilled but it was something kind of done, not in the dark exactly, but it was unsung heroes that are now being recognized for their amazing work. I always think that fiber has, it feels a little feminist to me. it feels pro-woman.


Aleena 

I was thinking the same thing. Like when I started coming out as a fiber artist and applying to galleries and stuff, I was wondering if they would be taken seriously as art because macrame and fiber art just don't tend to like be seen on the same level as like “fine” artists who maybe are painters or sculptures or whatever and I thought about that history of fiber art being women's art and the way that that hasn't been valued the same way, and it's interesting too because I feel like fiber art so essentializes what is archetypally feminine and like the softness 


Caroline

Yeah


Aleena 

the tactileness. It's like a very embodied, sensual experience where it's not just in your head but it's also your clothing even like, like your experience of interacting with it


Caroline

well also one of the things we do a lot here is when we have, well first of all we make no distinction between fine art and fine craft, because at this point contemporary art encompasses both, so anyone who does not think that this is serious fine art -


Aleena

Laughs


Caroline

But then the other thing is I think that we see it more in children but we are tactile and sensory as humans and so, or even as animals, and so this idea that you're tying into multiple senses is really nice and makes sense that you're a meditation teacher. but I like the idea that we're bringing, you're shining the light on fiber art. And I think it's beautiful and I hope everybody comes to see it. She has two pieces in the show. The other one is I would describe more as a, not a Chevron but a single be so you'll get to see two different like 


Aleena

Very different styles.


Caroline

You'll get to see two different styles, both elegant. I like that the other one - we’ll put a little a little pop of it in here - is a nice juxtaposition between blue and gold and white it looks very nice.


Aleena

More of a color exploration. 


Caroline

Yeah so thank you so much for sharing your piece and we hope you'll come see both of these pieces in our materials matter show from now through August 4th. Thanks so much Aleena.


Aleena

Thank you so much for this conversation. That was really a joy.


Caroline

I love hearing about your work so this is great. The more I look at it, the more I could look at it is what I feel like


Aleena

Thanks! You made me think that, with the whole feminine quality, that there's a component of care here, where you have to kind of tend to it and like comb it over time. It doesn't just sit there, you have to care for it.


Caroline

Well also it’s made of relatively raw materials which means it's gonna age and have patina and grow with you. 


13 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page