In my work, I seek an authentic experience of beauty amidst the flood of distractions and messes of daily life. My artwork focuses on family scenes, room interiors and still life to create intimate views into one’s interior realm. The restorative, embodying aspects of blending tactile fiber materials are also central to my practice. I love the process of slow-looking and developing layered, nuanced surfaces as a form of active contemplation. But I also thrive on the speed, playfulness and unpredictability of techniques like wet felting.
Since becoming a mother of two young children, these pursuits have found expression in my depictions of the tender rituals and pandemonium of parenthood. Through subjects like messy playpens, doodling children or wedding rings, my work hints at the intersection of ritual and play, monotony and delight in fundamental human relationships.
Materials and Motherhood
My approach to fibers is informed by my background in oil painting. Starting with wool felting or weaving as a canvas, I build imagery that remains two-dimensional but textured, with a painterly touch. Beyond the simple joys of working with wool, its history and present uses have drawn me to use it in my current practice.
Wool felting has a fascinating history and surprising links to motherhood: it is the oldest form of textile production, with the earliest examples unearthed in Turkey from 6500 B.C. Wool felt has served as a shelter in harsh environments, in the form of yurts used for thousands of years by nomadic Mongolian tribes. Ewes are traditionally sheared right before giving birth in the spring, and lanolin, an ointment commonly used by breast-feeding women, comes exclusively from sheep’s wool.
Recently my materials have expanded to include wool sourced from local sheep farms, and domestic detritus like dryer lint and clippings of my children’s hair. I am also felting pieces in my washing machine with regular laundry loads. This is a way to acknowledge the “invisible”, slow labor that accompanies my role as full-time caregiver and homemaker, and “make seen” the efforts of parents who are primary caregivers to young children. I want to treat mothering as a serious subject for art-making, and expand the maternal lens beyond its carefully curated forms found on social media.
My influences range from the painters of the Nabis group and Mary Cassatt, to Kaylan Buteyn's "Artist/Mother" podcast and the growth of sustainable small batch wool. The life and work of artists Anni Albers, Käthe Kollwitz, and Ruth Asawa have been formative inspirations. My approach to art-making has also been shaped by the writings of Jacques Maritain, Thomas Merton and Flannery O'Connor on Catholic faith and art.
Courtesy of Robea Nordman