Michael Radyk Artist Statement
Corduroys, Migrations and Featherworks
The making of woven cloth is at the core of my artistic practice. My investigation into making cloth stems from those dualities inherent in its value, structure, meaning, production, visual impact, craft, and history.
My series of work entitled Corduroys, Migrations and Featherworks brings together and enlarges some of the concepts I have been working on over the last five years. These new mixed media investigations are my attempt at working in a place free of doubt, working with woven structures, forms, and materials that embody concepts developed in a series of Jacquard textiles created to be manipulated, cut, and reimagined after they have been cut off the loom, bringing the artist’s hand into an industrial textile. The pieces explore places both fictionalized and real. Examples include Swan Point cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island, and the Jack Kerouac novel Visions of Gerard, which uses Lowell, Massachusetts as its backdrop.
My recent work is exploring the introduction of stiffened, reflective, and transformable materials into a woven textile. This work draws open three source elements for inspiration and vocabulary: 1) featherworks from Peru and Africa, 2) cut corduroy structures from Peter Collingwood’s encyclopedic text “The Techniques of Rug Weaving,” and 3) the concept of the migration of materials as they are pushed and pulled, cut and manipulated into a final dimensional form. The use of migration as metaphor and context compelled me to look at my journeys to and from the objects, museums, places, and material resources that inspire my work. In the textiles I produce there is a consistency of influences. Using a multilayered or mosaic-like approach to research is how I work. Weaving together a sort of atlas of influence and memory, my aim is to demonstrate the evocative power of images which occur/recur, to expose their impact, their nature, to explain how they function, how they infect one another.
Wanting to continue the manipulation of surface structure, I chose to weave a series of diagonal corduroy textiles that would be collaged with pattern woven textiles, embroidered elements, and feathered textiles. Corduroy, for me is a strange beast because its surface is cut after weaving. The act of cutting for me references the landscape both manicured and mangled. I enlarge and expand the corduroy structures to unrecognizable dimensions. Feathers and featherworks have always inspired awe and skepticism in me. How are they made? Why were they made? Can I find away to use feathers in a contemporary context? Heidi King’s text, Peruvian Featherworks: Art of the Pre-Columbian Era, answered many of the technical questions while inspiring me to explore the possibilities of their use.
Hunting, gathering, and migrating to my resources and the use of industrial man-made materials is where I find inspiration. The ubiquitous natures of the materials I use are interesting to me because they usually defy desire and beauty. Their machine-made quality is contrasted with the woven structure and final form of the pieces. Vinyl-coated recycled polyester, industrial-dyed goose feathers that are sewn together onto a polyester ribbon, plastic palettes, fique, retro-reflective safety tape, and phosphorescent/holographic tape are collaged and manipulated into a kind of out-of-control, disco environment. The migration of the woven materials becomes movement, and the color and placement of the dyed feathers create a sort of rush to the senses.