Discarded fabric ropes - installation and sculpture

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In an emotional reaction to the rise of hate crimes and racial tensions, I started an installation series representative of human connections. 


Ropes came to mind as a symbol of connection, probably because I grew up seeing Shimenawa (sacred ropes) in Japan. I was attracted to their universality and ancient history that goes back to 28,000 years. Recently I learned that my grandmother's family ran a rope manufacturer until the war. I'm feeling a strange affinity for rope-making.



Starting this series, I ordered some cotton ropes but they were expensive and lifeless. So I taught myself to make them with old clothes. A bag full of handmade ropes together looked alive like an organic creature. 



Even as I knew that my making ropes would not save the world, and I had no idea how I would present them as art, I could not stop making them. To weave a rope, you twist one thread outwards as you bring the other side inward. Two opposing forces repeat to create strength. The process became meditative, like a prayer for a divided world to come together again.



Earlier pieces were more like woven sculptures with smaller ropes. This year, I stepped back to focus on the rope itself rather than making something with it. I'm weaving more details directly into the rope by patch-working different fabrics and patterns from all over the world, further increasing our sense of inter-connectedness. I'm choosing to present their natural forms, such as tangling, looping, tying, or hanging.

© 2020 Tomo Mori