Beginning in 2016, Hellen Ascoli and her collaborator, weaver and poet Negma Coy, began working on a pedagogical resource for educators in Guatemala that focuses on the knowledge embedded in the back-strap loom; it’s sensorial and embodied practices, it’s materiality and techniques, it’s relation to language, and its formation of and from place. The back-strap loom is a mobile, domestic tool made of wooden sticks. The head of the loom is attached to a tree or post and the feet are attached to a strap that wraps around the weaver’s back. The weaver’s position creates the tension for the loom to operate.
During Ascoli’s residency at Artpace, “En los hilos encontré” (written in Spanish and Kaqchikel) was completed and pages of the book can be seen projected on the north wall of the gallery as well as throughout the space in gestures created by the artist. (she re-members) siendo somos is grounded by En los hilos encontré (Xinwil pa taq b’ätz’) (In the Threads I Found) with Ascoli returning to this book as a site of learning by positioning herself not as the author but as a constant student. This action prompts her to re-member the experiences of weaving and engaging in questions found throughout the book. Reflections and responses to these prompts are seen throughout the gallery in text, textiles, audio, and photographs.
What is the vibration of Kaqchikel?
Are there limits between our bodies and the world that surrounds us? Where do sensation and location touch? What bodies do we inhabit?
Visitors may participate through touch, movement, and position in three of the gestures created by the artist throughout the gallery.
You can select one of eight textiles from the north wall, lay it out on the ground in front of the book, and read. These Su’t, or bunding fabrics, are part of Ascoli’s personal collection and represent the San Antonio Agua Calientes, Sacatepéquez and Nahualá, Sololá communities of Guatemala.
Where are acts of reading and writing manifested?
Guests can move the textile on Reader by slowly rotating the manual hand crank.
Where do we encounter?
the corners speak is activated when the textile’s corners are folded.
This multifaceted installation is an extension of Ascoli’s previous work that asks viewers to position themselves within what the artist calls ‘weaving worlds’ and to consider the questions asked in In the Threads I Found in a greater context. How do we feel in our bodies? What bodies do we find that complement us? What beings do we want to be?
THE ARTIST WOULD LIKE TO THANK
Luisa González Reiche
The International Artist-in-Residence program is supported through generous donations from the Linda Pace Foundation, the City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation of the San Antonio Area Foundation, The Parker Foundation, Inc., the Howard and Betty Halff Charitable Fund, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.