Moira Bateman is a contemporary visual artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She makes textile sculptures, site-specific works, large scale creations which often lie near rivers or in prairies.
The materials she uses include animal fibers as well as leaves, pine needles, ink, wax. Wild nature and human emotion meet and clash in her work, which are so rich in architectural and primordial elements. And now Moira is going to tell us something about herself.
Hi Moira. You are a contemporary Visual Artist with a Masterís Degree in Landscape Architecture. While exploring your website, we can immediately sense the connection in your work between the natural environment and the most intimate and vulnerable of human elements. Tell us about this stylistic choice of yours.
In my work, Iím thinking about the contrast of the wildness of all life with its inherent vulnerability. These are within each of us, and also in every living aspect of the larger world. In this way Iím looking at the cracks where wildness gets in, where the force of nature takes over.
In your gallery, I noticed many large-scale textile sculptures made with natural fibers such as linen, wool and silk. What is do these materials add to your work?
Iím looking to express the idea of a powerful life force. Iíve found that natural fibers can evoke this wild, strong, instinctual nature when used with that intention.
You were born in Minnesota and designed most of your works and installations there. What role has Minnesota played in your personal artistic growth?
Minnesota is where I have lived most of my life, and so I have many layers of memory associated with its specific places. The memories, stories and associations are layers upon layers creating a personal dialogue, a kind of fluid map that occupies my mind and ties me further to these places.†An example are memories of times spent as a child in Minneapolis, scrambling up and down the 150 foot high banks that run along the Mississippi River. I enjoyed being able to experience a certain wildness and sense of adventure just blocks from home. The river and its steep banks are still a force that cannot be reliably controlled. Itís a wild swath cutting through the grid of urban streets. Itís a crack where wildness gets in.
Silk left by the edge of a river to freeze. Oak and birch leaves cover the silk so as to color it. I find this technique extremely romantic and moving. Is there a metaphor or a secret message behind this methodology that you chose for the creation of your work entitled Vasteras, Sweden?
When wrapping the silk with leaves, when submerging and leaving it in the waterways, I try to work quickly and not think too much about what Iím doing. By working at keeping quiet, Iím hoping to give the places themselves time and an opportunity to leave their own message in the cloth.
Your works make a word come to mind: rituals. Maybe because they catapult me into another time, an ancient era at the origin of everything. Do you have a daily ritual that accompanies you in a particular part of your day?
The main things I need each day so I can think and work are black coffee and solitude.
What is your favorite felting technique and how did you discover felt?
I prefer the control I can get with needle felting into fabric. This technique also makes it possible to leave areas of the fleece natural and wild looking.†I started my felting with Navajo Churro wool. The sheep belonged to my friendís family and I enjoyed day trips to the farm. I started with mostly raw fleeces and just jumped into the work of it. The first pieces I did were quite large.
In which part of the world would you set your next site-specific?
I am intrigued by the bogs in Minnesota and would†love to make site-specific works regarding bogs in Scandinavia.
D: would you mind recommending book on textile art for those who want to learn more about this world?
ďSecond SkinĒ by India Flint is a really thoughtful book on cloth, natural dying, mending and the human experience. It is full of great details and photos.
If you liked this interview you may also be†interested in our†Lizz Aston interview.