Our Skin Sees Color (The Anni Rugs)

…our skin is actually capable of distinguishing a number of colours;

we do indeed see by our skin. 

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, 1968

 

Influenced by indigenous colors and materials of Mexico, formal elements of pre-Columbian sites, and traditional Mexican craft, these rugs celebrate the haptic (sense of touch pertaining to perception and use of objects) in design. These tapetes are made in homage to artist, designer, and weaver Anni Albers who made frequent trips to Mexico and collected clay figurines from the region. As a result, she was greatly influenced by the Mexican vernacular.

    

These rugs were woven on a handmade loom by master weavers Florencia and Namesio in Santa Ana del Valle, a small weaving and farming community in Oaxaca.

Anni Rug 01

42 x 24 x .5 inches. wool. 2019.

Handwoven wool dyed with cascara de nuez (walnut shell) and cochinilla (cochineal bug).

   

Anni Rug 02

4 x 3 x 6.5 inches. wool. 2019.

Handwoven wool dyed with flor de pericon (marigold).

    

Anni Rug 03

42 x 24 x .5 inches. wool. 2019.

Handwoven undyed wool with aniline-dyed coral wool.

     

Anni Rug 04

42 x 24 x .5 inches. wool. 2019.

Handwoven wool dyed with indigo and cochinilla (cochineal bug).

Who was Anni Albers? 

During her career as a weaver, designer, and printmaker, Anni Albers fundamentally shifted the perception of “women’s crafts” and launched some of her century’s greatest advances for women in creative careers. She was a student and then the director of the weaving division – the only department open to women at the time – at the progressive, experimental Bauhaus design school. She blended handcraft and industry to create one of the Bauhaus’s only financially successful divisions and, in so doing, played an integral part in the legendary design institution’s vision as a lab for innovation in industry. She – along with her husband Josef Albers – taught and created with a strong emphasis on experimentation with materials, a core component of Bauhaus philosophy. In her book, Material as Metaphor, Anni explained that “material is a means of communication…” One of Anni’s former students shared, “The important lesson I absorbed was that you do ‘listen’ quietly, threads would suggest what could be done with them… This instruction slowly allowed possibilities of the materials to reveal themselves.” Back in 1965, surrounded by a society of sleek-surfaced modern cityscapes, Anni mourned the paucity of tactile experience: "We touch things to assure ourselves of reality… Our tactile experiences are elemental. We are apt today to overcharge our gray matter with words and pictures… and to fall short in providing for a stimulus that may touch off our creative impulse, such as unformed material, material ‘in the rough.’ ” With our current screen-based world, her words ring ever true today.

   

Anni’s philosophy emerges in the textural richness of her rugs, acoustic wall hangings, and textiles (designed for production with reputable institutions such as Harvard University and Knoll manufacturing) as they overflow with rare combinations of chunky, shiny, stringy, downy, and scratchy materials often pushed to their limits.