HAND/EYE MAGAZINE, CONTINUUM OF DIALOGUE, MAY 19, 2016

Photo: Andria Lo

I work sculpturally to capture a moment in time using active processes that become meditations: dyeing, weaving, wrapping, compressing, structuring, ordering, and releasing. The repetition of these acts fosters a connection between the subconscious mind and the body, and these full body rhythmic movements allow my stream of consciousness to expand on certain conceptual ideas and develop more thoughtful conclusions. 

My work is on the continuum of dialogue between the grid and its manifestations as form, content, and medium through threads, weaving, and painting.  I utilize the power of the materials to construct architectural frames from which to build weighted objects in space.  Localized patterns of organization translate unique spatial and physical relationships between the viewer and the sculptures.  Parts of a sculpture can be compact and highly detailed, whereas others are unraveled and cascade onto the floor. Many can be installed in multiple configurations, hung from the wall or ceiling, allowing for multiple vantage points for the viewer to engage with two or three structural planes. Using Icelandic wool, reeds, and linen yarns as foundations, I have created works that activate and inhibit space implementing iron, paint, and embroidery onto the woven structure.  I approach my work in fibers with a sense of physical and emotional expression through structure. Utilizing the grid, I create works that bounce between the static and fluid. The woven works explo­­­re fibers’ endless potential for composition, color, line, form and shape through the structure of the grid.  

The grid, as a form and medium, has allowed me to push physical and mental boundaries communicated through threads and materials.  Using structure as a vehicle for emotional and physical expression, I utilize the loom and my hands as tools of exploration to disrupt the static grid, making it more fluid.  The repetition and meditative properties of weaving foster a connection between the subconscious mind and the body.  I associate weaving as a full body process, requiring the use of both hands and devoted concentration; from miniature weavings to large-scale tapestries, the weavings created during my residency all display the “hand” in the process.  This can especially be seen in the Emergencyseries, where I repeatedly painted, deconstructed, and wove emergency blankets found at the N1 in Iceland.  After the emergency blanket was woven onto the Icelandic wool warp, I added acrylic paint and deconstructed the face of the weaving, treating it as a completely different surface than the other large-scale weavings.  I respond to the inherent energy of the materials and how they interact to inform my decisions, balancing the tension between control and the relinquishment of control through the process. 

The potential for scale in my small works has led me to create several large-scale weavings and intricately wrapped and draped sculptures. The beauty of the undyed greyscale of Icelandic materials highlight the texture and dimensionality of a pebbled knot or stitch and transform a canvassed piece at large.  The visceral experience of the work conveys a message of beauty and form that exemplifies my interpretation of the grid.  


LUXE MAGAZINE FEATURE, NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

Liz Robb has known what she wanted to do with her life since kindergarten. “When I was a kid and got those questionnaires that asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would always write ‘artist,’ ” says Robb, who would often spend time drawing, making her own dolls and sewing clothes for them. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that she went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. After working in New York for American Eagle Outfitters, she scored a job with Wisconsin retailer Lands’ End. It was while she was working in women’s sweaters and knits that—through a friend at the company—she was introduced to and began volunteering for the owner of a farm in a rural area outside of Madison. “I learned to care for sheep, harvest their eece and create beautiful roving and yarn,” she says. “My life transformed during that time.” This experience led her to go back to school to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Fibers. Today, working from her Dogpatch studio overlooking the East Bay, Robb can be found expertly coaxing natural materials including cotton, wool and beeswax into her textured wall hangings, weavings and three-dimensional forms. Inspired by the brilliant hues used by such artists as James Turrell and Helen Frankenthaler, Robb integrates pops of bold colors in her tactile works and, whether she’s dyeing wool with indigo, working out a weaving on the loom, or utilizing techniques like wrapping and compressing, she keeps her methods organic. “My creative process often starts with doodling in my sketchbook, and then I explore patterns and relationships three- dimensionally utilizing different materials,” she explains. “On the other hand, depending on my mood, I may start throwing around rope or roving to see what unfolds.” Robb, who offers her dynamic pieces through Yonder in Paci ca, recently embarked on a two- month residency at the Icelandic Textile Center. “I proposed creating three larger-than-life movable sculptures, both on and o the loom, using materials I sourced from the land,” she says. In her closer-to-home experiments, Robb is always trying out new techniques. She has worked with “different materials—paint, plastic, rubber—things that are pretty hard to undo,” says the artist, who has also tested out pouring plaster on her painstakingly woven creations. “Usually, you can kind of unweave and reweave, but with these secondary materials, it’s make it or break it.” 

Liz Robb has known what she wanted to do with her life since kindergarten. “When I was a kid and got those questionnaires that asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would always write ‘artist,’ ” says Robb, who would often spend time drawing, making her own dolls and sewing clothes for them. So, perhaps it’s no surprise that she went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design. After working in New York for American Eagle Outfitters, she scored a job with Wisconsin retailer Lands’ End. It was while she was working in women’s sweaters and knits that—through a friend at the company—she was introduced to and began volunteering for the owner of a farm in a rural area outside of Madison. “I learned to care for sheep, harvest their eece and create beautiful roving and yarn,” she says. “My life transformed during that time.” This experience led her to go back to school to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Fibers.

Today, working from her Dogpatch studio overlooking the East Bay, Robb can be found expertly coaxing natural materials including cotton, wool and beeswax into her textured wall hangings, weavings and three-dimensional forms. Inspired by the brilliant hues used by such artists as James Turrell and Helen Frankenthaler, Robb integrates pops of bold colors in her tactile works and, whether she’s dyeing wool with indigo, working out a weaving on the loom, or utilizing techniques like wrapping and compressing, she keeps her methods organic. “My creative process often starts with doodling in my sketchbook, and then I explore patterns and relationships three- dimensionally utilizing different materials,” she explains. “On the other hand, depending on my mood, I may start throwing around rope or roving to see what unfolds.”

Robb, who offers her dynamic pieces through Yonder in Paci ca, recently embarked on a two- month residency at the Icelandic Textile Center. “I proposed creating three larger-than-life movable sculptures, both on and o the loom, using materials I sourced from the land,” she says. In her closer-to-home experiments, Robb is always trying out new techniques. She has worked with “different materials—paint, plastic, rubber—things that are pretty hard to undo,” says the artist, who has also tested out pouring plaster on her painstakingly woven creations. “Usually, you can kind of unweave and reweave, but with these secondary materials, it’s make it or break it.” 


ARTSLANT, UNDER THE RADAR, OCTOBER 16, 2015


VISUAL ART SOURCE RECOMMENDATION, DEWITT CHENG, SEPTEMBER, 2015

Large Indigo Coil, 2014, cotton indigo, 150 x 18 inches                                                                                 Photo: Maria Minnelli

Large Indigo Coil, 2014, cotton indigo, 150 x 18 inches                                                                                 Photo: Maria Minnelli

Avant-garde art aficionados of a certain (i.e., advanced) age will remember when the soft sculpture of Claes Oldenburg was the newest outrage against the cultural norm of traditional art materials. A decade later, women’s craft techniques and feminist criticism invaded male bastions of culture. Nowadays, sewn sculpture is no longer seen as a challenge to aesthetic gravitas or paternalistic authority, so Liz Robb’s new work in fiber, aligned with a postminimalist interest in process, can be rightly appreciated on its own terms. 

Robb: “I work sculpturally to capture a moment in time using active processes that become meditations: indigo dyeing, weaving, wrapping, compressing, structuring, ordering, and releasing…. I utilize the power of the materials to construct architectural frames from which to build weighted objects in space.” “Large Indigo Coil” is a wall-hung spiral of braided fiber with ‘jets’ of cotton spraying from its ends, suggestive of marine invertebrates. “Nine Circles” transposes the Johnsian idea of repeated simple elements with variations in treatment, suggesting a typology or even — if you see the objects as transformations — a narrative. “Sunset,” with its knotted white valance and braided beige curtain separated by a thin band of orange, combines concealment and revelation, the unseen and the seen. 


ARTIST FEATURE: LIZ ROBB, AUTHENTICY B DESIGNS, AugusT 11, 2015

Photo: Haley Golden

Photo: Haley Golden

When visiting West Coast Craft last month we were blown away by the talent of San Francisco based fiber artist, Liz Robb. Liz works sculpturally with a variety of natural materials such as cotton, wool, yarn, paper, beeswax, textiles, rope, beaded, crushed copper, linen, and indigo. We recently visited Liz's studio located in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. What an inspirational treat to experience Liz's creative space and visit with her precious dog, Hank! 

When first arriving at Liz's studio you cannot help but immediately be enamored by the vibrant colors and lush textures of her work. It’s hard to stop yourself from touching every piece. Regardless of the material used and how she has chosen to manipulate it there is a clear aesthetic consistency that quickly emerges throughout Liz's work. All of her pieces carry a rhythmic balance between architectural forms, particularly the grid, and unrestrained organic elements. The preparation and intense detail involved highlights Liz's great skill and experience working with fiber while the expression created from her process resembles her free spirit and exploration of what can arise in the moment.

It was a pleasure to get to know Liz a little bit more and we look forward to working closely with her to commission a few pieces for our clients homes in the near future. She is a gentle soul, completely down-to-earth, and clearly committed to her craft. You absolutely must visit Liz's current show at Transmission Gallery in Oakland! To learn more about Liz, visit her website here and don’t miss our personal interview with Liz here.