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Lia Cook: On the Loom of Contradiction
In the June/July 1980 American Craft, Jan Janeiro profiled the textile artist Lia Cook, noting the interplay of multiple processes necessary to produce her complex hangings, then woven on a 20-harness dobby loom in heavy industrial white viscose rayon.
During the 1980s, Cook pioneered the use of the electronic Jacquard handloom, both in her studio and while teaching—she has been a professor of art at the California College of the Arts in Oakland since 1976—wedding photographic and weave software to design her work. Since 2000, the Berkeley-based artist, in a departure from previous endeavors, has captivated viewers with her haunting, enigmatic images of human and doll faces, intriguingly embedded, thread-by-thread, in a latticelike weave structure. Observed up close, the faces dissolve into an ambiguous labyrinth of threads. “Faces and Mazes: Lia Cook,” a touring exhibition of this new work, was organized by and debuted at the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Part of the show is on view until May 15 at the Gregg Museum of Art & Design in Raleigh, NC, while a different selection will open on Apr. 7 in Toronto at the Textile Museum of Canada—the last venue on the tour—and remain on view until Sept. 6.
Elected an American Craft Council Fellow in 1997, Cook has earned numerous awards from organizations in the U.S., Japan and China, including a Gold Medal at the 5th International Fiber Biennale in Beijing in 2008. Her weavings, exhibited in over 90 shows since 2000, are in museum collections around the world. Cook is represented by Perimeter Gallery in Chicago and Browngrotta Arts in Wilton, CT. “A consummate experimenter,” says Tom Grotta, “Cook cares deeply about process without ever having felt constrained by it.”