When holidays and the chance to see weaving in an exhibition coincide, it is a happy coincidence, and not one to upset the loom fairies. I made plans to get an hour in the Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, to see ‘Altered Perception: Sarah Hotchkiss, Lordy Rodriguez, and Susie Taylor’ which is running until 13th August.

The exhibition was inspired by, and is a tribute to Bridget Riley, and my primary focus for the visit was to see the works by Susie Taylor – aka weaving.origami on Instagram. It was marvellous to see her work hung, having seen some of them as images on Instagram.

Linescape: Green, Susie Taylor 2021

Linescape works, Susie Taylor 2021

The ‘linescape’ series of works, (beautifully hung in a point threading which I really liked) dominated one wall of the exhibition and transfixed the Croft gang – this was meant to be a little solo hour, but they wanted to see too – and it actually made it great fun. Were they all really different? How did the colours work together?, Which ones popped colour more?, How did the colours blend across the warp and weft?. My favourite was Linescape Green. I loved how the bright green and blue interacted. It was brilliant to be able to show to the non weaving family how the different colours could be created from just 2 colours depending on the warp and weft interlacements. 

Kai’s Painting. Sarah Hotchkiss 2021

Trench, Lordy Rodriquez 2006

The exhibition featured work from two other San Francisco Bay Area artists, who were new to me – Sarah Hotchkiss, whose pieces in the gallery were the most identifiable as abstract in that they are predominantly black and white and feel similar to Riley’s work. Sarah’s work looks at how abstraction is used as a tool for language communication, from early pictures for babies, or symbols used in games. 

Lordy Rodriguez’s work links to Riley more directly, in that Rodriguez is informed by the visual clues and tricks Riley developed in her full-colour, often pastel-hued, large-scale paintings to support his political works on gerrymandering, water resources, and geo-politics. 

It was great to be introduced to other artists influenced by Bridget Riley. 

Iconic Stripes 2, Susie Taylor 2022

Iconic Stripes 5, Susie Taylor 2022

I love the Iconic Stripes weavings. How the blocks recede and advance, and how the warp and weft interactions altered the colours interactions, and how the series of them demonstrated the impacts that different warp stripes can have on the finished piece. The abstract shapes, remind me of the Tetris game shapes that I might have played a lot in earlier years.

Looking at these with someone who is red/green colour blind always adds another dimension to conversations about colour perception. Fred and I had a long chat about Iconic Stripes 2, which he couldn’t really see in the same way as the others in the series.  Jonathan, who grew up in Sheffield – the home of Bassetts sweets, and his first comment when seeing Iconic Stripes 5 was ‘Dolly Mixture’. Now I’m not sure how prolific dolly mixture sweets are on the west coast of America, but now he’s said it, it’s all I can think about when I see this. Abstraction indeed! 

Ripple, Susie Taylor 2022

Woven sample, Susie Taylor 2022

The origami/weaving fusion of ripple allows for a 3D element that makes vertical lines move horizontally – a mean feat in weaving.

Throughout the series of work, it’s possible to see how the works are informed by weavers of the Bauhaus, such as Anni Albers and Josef Albers, Margarete Köhler, Marli Ehrman, and Gunta Stölzl. However, the new, inventive techniques Susie uses ensure that her work stands shoulder to shoulder with these artists on colour, composition, abstraction and of course inspiration.

And the best bit? Next to the pile of relevant op art books to look through were some woven samples from Susie to pick up and play with. Such a generous thing to do – and makes me think about the times we’ve peered about how something was done, counting the shafts, and yet here was something to pick up and squash about. It is a brilliant addition to the exhibition for the weave geek in me – and another opportunity to explain how the weaving works and why it makes me quite so happy to my gang.

Last Thursday, Susie was in conversation with lead curator at ICA Zoe Latser, and the talk will be uploaded to YouTube sometime this week – I’m not sure when – sorry you’ll find it here when it is live.