We recently discovered artist, educator and producer, Victoria Manganiello.
She creates paintings by “spinning, dying, and weaving her own canvases, using materials like synthetic and natural dyes, cotton, silk and other mixed materials.”
Talk about taking time to make a masterpiece.
We spoke with her to understand more about her craft and vision.
How would you explain your work?
I like to explain my work by sharing my process. An obsession with the act of reordering or rearranging material is what compels me to utilize the processes I do to construct my paintings and installations. I start with raw fiber and pigment and then I spin, dye and weave them into a new form – the same material physically, just repurposed and totally unrecognizable. It is monotonous and time consuming but also meditative. Making something from start to finish is a demonstration of my existence along a timeline where every mark I make informs that which follows it. My work is familiar and soft – every human interacts with cloth intimately and constantly – and it is abstract and inviting, intended to be a place for any viewer to place themselves along a timeline like I have whether for them its linear or in some other order.
Where do you get inspiration to create your projects?
I am inspired by the history of the maker and of making. Our ability to create is at the essence of what makes us human. The rich history of textiles, ubiquitous and ancient, is also constantly evolving and I am fascinated and inspired by its connection to community and dialogue. I am an educator – I teach textiles at Parsons New School, as well as at the Textile Arts Center in Gowanus, Brooklyn and privately. Also, I run an artist critique group and I’ll take any chance I get to talk to people about art. It is a springboard for critical thinking and idea sharing.
In one of my classes at Parsons this semester, we are investigating the history, production and uses of dyes both natural and synthetic. During a time where sustainability and environmental practices are both so contentious and at risk, these kinds of conversations are especially important to be had by makers. The chance to engage young students with important issues, knowing that they as individuals have the power to make real change and impression upon the textiles and fashion industries, brings me so much fulfillment.
What project are you currently working on?
For years, I’ve been weaving my own canvases and it is a very central component of my practice but recently, I’ve been exploring painting on ready-made canvas. It’s a totally different approach but my experience with making my own canvases has led to some interesting discoveries with color and form that have been exciting to implement in a more traditional way of making contemporary painting.
Also, I’m looking forward to a solo show at Java Project in Greenpoint Brooklyn opening in Mid-March and I’ll be showing in the Spring Break Art Fair in March too. Stay tuned for details!
When you need to get away, where is your safe space? What brings you back to feeling whole?
My favorite part of getting away is the literal “getting away” part. I love public transit and often crave an airport or a subway when I’m feeling lost. These spaces, which essentially belong to all (most) of us, are an incredible equalizer. This is especially true of Brooklyn where you will see all sorts of people on the subway, speaking all languages, wearing all kinds of clothing, transporting all kinds of things… nothing and everything is a surprise. I love this about public space and feel inspired by the constant and shifting stimulation even if I’m tuning it out behind a book or headphones. Also the act of moving, presumably towards a new place, is invigorating and the reminder that I have the ability to go, to move, to explore makes me feel whole. I believe in the collective conscious and the buzz of transit really activates that connection to the people around us
What would you like your work to make people feel or take away?
In my opinion, the purpose or rather the use of artwork is to stimulate a viewer, to provide them with the opportunity to develop new thoughts and opinions and reflect on their life and the world around them. And I like to work with abstraction because with it, I’m trying to create a space for any viewer to find themselves – there is room for anyone in abstraction.