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Unartisanal || Back to exhibition

Ruth Jeyaveeran

What draws you to the materials you work with?
Felting is tactile, hands-on work. Wool is primal and spiritual, connected to nature and a source of warmth and shelter. In the final stages of the felting process, I rub the fiber between my fingers, coaxing the newly formed textile into shape. This felt "skin" is pliable, flexible and remarkably versatile, a fertile ground that can be embedded with objects, built up or carved into, sculpted, draped, folded, wrinkled or wrapped around a resist.

Why "craft" and not "art"?
This distinction has always seemed artificial to me and has even less relevance to the world today as the boundaries between art, craft, design and technology continue to merge.

In what ways are you expanding upon the realm of craft? Is your work rooted in any specific traditions or techniques?
I work with hand-felted wool in order to examine our relationship to the unseen objects we use and interact with every day. I'm interested in the many ways textiles are inextricably linked with human history and culture but remain a mystery to most of us, a feat of engineering hiding in plain sight. I try to place these materials traditionally associated with the domestic, decorative, functional and feminine in a new context.

How do you navigate "craft" while avoiding popular trends?
By making work that is authentic and stays true to my voice.

Do you consider craft utilitarian, or decorative, or both/neither? Why?
From the beginning of time, craft has encompassed all of these categories and more. In terms of textiles, the history of stitch can be traced back to our earliest ancestors when "needles" made of bone and "thread" made of plant and animal parts were used to stitch together fur and leathers. These early makers quickly found that the stitches used to join things together could also be used for decoration and embellishment.

Why do you think so many people are returning to fiber arts these days?Fiber art and felting in particular celebrates the repetitive motion of making as a therapeutic and tactile experience that we so desperately need in our modern world. These processes create a meditative space, a way to slow down and connect with older traditions as well as our own bodies.

How has the pandemic affected your practice?
During the pandemic, I haven't been focused on making anything. I spent quite a bit of time reassessing my values, what makes me happy and what success actually means to me.



Unartisanal is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs


Unartisanal || Back to exhibition




Click the image to see another.


What Came Before, 2019, merino wool, mohair/silk yarn, linen thread, nails, 12' x 12' x 10"


Ruth Jeyaveeran is an artist, designer and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. In her art practice she uses wool to examine the relationship between craft, textiles, technology and human history. Her felted sculptures and wall hangings have been exhibited at various galleries throughout New York and she's been awarded residencies at La Napoule Art Foundation, PADA Studios and Jentel.

Her most recent work, What Came Before -- an installation of hand felted wool sculptures -- explores the interconnectedness of objects in the material world. Presented in a "reverse taxonomy" these "artifacts" evoke archaeology, natural history and the sea, which hews all things down to their essence.

In 2018, she was an advisor on sustainable textile practices for the Bio Design Challenge at the Museum of Modern Art, and a juror for the Nancy Konigsberg Fiber Art Award given by the Textile Study Group of New York. She created and curates Crafting Change an annual exhibit of textile-based work for New York Textile Month. Currently she's an Assistant Professor of Textile and Surface Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has also taught courses in textiles and fiber art at Parsons School of Design.

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