By chance, while visiting Savannah this week, I was able to attend an exhibit opening, “Marked: Rusted Wovens” by Jennifer E. Moss, which will be up at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center from March 6-April 3, 2020. Her work is compelling on its own, but it was so much fun to talk technique with her as well. I asked whether it was OK for me to share details of her work process, because I have friends who, for example, would find it amazing that she is able to spool both thin wire and linen on a double shuttle and it works fine. I didn’t want to reveal any artist secrets, but it was no problem, Jennifer said. “I don’t know anyone else who would want to go to this much work,” she commented.
The series is tied together by the use of wire, woven into each piece. She uses a 30-gauge easily-oxidized black wire along with natural fibers. As each piece comes off the loom, it looks almost monochromatically white. The magic begins when she sprays it with salt water to start the oxidation process.
Her newest piece, woven for the show, dominated the far wall. Woven on its side, you can see that parts are woven in an undulating twill pattern, but parts are left in plain weave. At the edges of the pattern, she left long weft threads that hang down. My husband looked at the image and thought it looked like mountains and waterfalls. I appreciated it initially as an abstract, but as the minutes went by, I saw a flattened globe of some distant world, with continent shapes.
I was impressed with Jennifer’s imagination and innovation, and her deep exploration of material. She weaves with linen and cotton—both stain well—and wool, which also pulls in the oxidized rust color. Silk and acrylic don’t stain readily, so in the piece below she purposely used silk yarn for the undulating lines of pile that remain bright white.
Salt water finishing sometimes alters pieces through differential shrinkage. In this piece, the cotton plain weave base shrunk quite a bit more than the honeycomb stripe with wire. It wanted to bulge, so Jennifer created an armature for the resulting sculptural piece.
Jennifer teaches floor loom weaving classes for Fibers majors at SCAD. There are about 200, and all are required to take the beginning weaving course, weaving with four shafts. I commented that it must be energizing to work with students, and she said that it definitely helps her own work. As an example, she said that she was working with a “Weaving 2” student who wanted to weave a pique. As she helped her student work with the structure, she came up with an idea for her own series. In this piece, portions are woven in pique. The “stitcher threads,” the ones that tie down the pattern for the padded areas, are wire.
I asked whether any SCAD students are working in tapestry. Not right now, particularly. Students complete a tapestry on a frame loom in a fiber exporation class. One of the assignments she give in that class is to weave on an “alternative warp.” One student wove the strings of a guitar.
Talking with Jennifer about her work as a weaver and instructor was a Savannah highlight. And I haven’t even finished looking through her amazing earlier bodies of work.
I look forward to future inspiration via her Instagram feed, too, at: jenniferemoss
Here are some more photos of pieces I enjoyed.