To accommodate the tensile nature of fiber, Randy Walker seeks out frameworks that can act as looms, or creates his own, like this corncrib in Kalamazoo. “I scour my environment for suitable materials, like a spider trying to locate a site to build its web,” he explains. “These frameworks can be found objects like saw blades or window screens, or they can be architectural spaces, but they must be satisfactory structurally and sculpturally. I am, therefore, intensely engaged with the materials I use, studying them for cues as to how I might handle them. These armatures eventually define a working method for a particular piece.”
“For quite some time I have been interested in how fiber might be used in public artwork on large scales in a world where public art is predominantly seen by commissioning agencies as ‘permanent,’ ‘no-maintenance,’ etc. In other words: concrete, stone, steel,” Randy says. “While these more traditional materials are more permanent, even they need maintenance. Because there is often no funding or planning associated with maintenance of these “permanent” pieces, there are many around the country in states of decay. With the technological advances being made in fiber, and a fundamental shift in thought of what a work of public art could, I believe that it is possible to create art that has a planned maintenance, or regenerative potential. The Woven Corncrib is an example. It is re-woven, and a new piece is born from the old.”
Woven Corncrib, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, photos courtesy of Randy Walker.