The work of textile designer Dana Barnes has been called “Brobdingnagian.” Indeed, the playful, over-sized crocheted floor squares and exaggerated knots of braids she’s become known for are larger than life. Now, Barnes is ready to unveil her latest collection, “Unspun,” on exhibit at Ralph Pucci International, Gallery Nine, through Winter 2012. Like her previous work, “Unspun” focuses on traditional craft techniques like macramé, crochet, smocking, “knotting, netting, tying, twisting, and looping. All pieces are composed of natural unspun fibers bonded together by specially developed felting processes.”
From The New York Times:
“Dana Barnes is a fashion designer – a Seventh Avenue veteran…who has lately turned to textiles, felt rugs in particular. Ms. Barnes’ felt-making is a homegrown adventure that started several years ago with a simple problem: how to cover the vast expanses of her 3,250-square-foot loft to muffle the pitter-patter of her young daughters’ feet.”
That doesn’t mean this is the hobby of a stay-at-home mom. While most of Barnes’ pieces do serve a functional purpose, to me they’re more like touchable, user-friendly objets d’arts. Tactile as ever, Barnes’ newest wall coverings are evocative of nature and wild, outdoor places, like the “thick crop fields, rolled bales of hay, grazed hills and meadows, Spanish moss and gnarled tree trunks” of her childhood.
It’s the scale, of course, that makes the work so impressive. Small, woven goods are nice, but to see those individual fibers blown up and out, covering the walls and floors in traffic jam of knots or a coiled on the floor in a muted gray braid – is overwhelming. How can you look at her work and not want to take a running jump into that wall of knots, to dig your fingers into its soft mass of whorls? How do you not want to roll around on her rugs, or climb that knotted staircase?