"In 2020, while sheltering in place at my home in California, I taught myself to make nets and subsequently Lacis, the lace created by darning patterns onto a net. Having devoted my practice to wearable art for more than a decade, my focus began to pivot. I was now acutely concerned with the aesthetics of my domestic surroundings and completely distressed about the health and safety of my loved ones near and far. My solace was to explore this category of lace, which has its origin story rooted in practicality and human survival.
I began to notice how much theoretical attention is paid to the concept of a net or a veil, as a liminal space separating the conscious from the unconscious realm. Whether to dwell in the memory of someone who has passed, or to keep close and connected to someone I love, nets have become the location for a series of portraits of the people closest to me, while I am unable to share space with or touch them physically.
Mending the square or diamond mesh of a net is the pictorial aspect of Lacis. No matter how finely the underlying net is made, the details of an individual’s unique features or a fleeting expression are quite difficult to render. I endeavored to capture the essence of these subjects, drawing them in secret while on zoom calls and honing in on the details that were important to me. Using linen stitch upon my handmade net as an underlying structure, I created a fabric dense enough to embroider upon. With this method, all the intricacies of a contour line drawing can be present. This process utterly abstracts the subject, yet the important elements of the individual are present, their silhouette, the subtle lines of their face, the familiar features I can recall in my mind’s eye.
Alternatively, selfies can be blown up and pixelated, and devotional attention can be given to the precise color of the thread used to darn a pixel. With this technique, the blocky and pixelated quality of the image is amplified and the process of point de reprise (with a single strand of embroidery thread) is employed to slow down the blurring of an image, as that person’s likeness fades from memory. Within this body of work, I am able to have a tactile and visual relationship with each person that I am longing for, while mending their likeness into the veil."
Amy Keefer is a visual artist, educator and facilitator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts.
Hailed as “radical in its romance”; her work is rooted in wearable art, simultaneously addressing textile practices and relational aesthetics. She began making lace and researching textile history while attending CCA in 2008. Since then, her work has been recognized widely throughout the United States. Recently, she was included in a public lace exhibition in Ireland, “the Headford Lace Project” curated by Fiona Harrington. Keefer has lectured extensively on textiles and their relationship to feminist history, labor and identity and teaches technical courses in textile arts throughout the Bay Area.
Since 2016, Keefer has worked as a facilitator in textiles and wearable arts alongside artists with developmental disabilities at the progressive art studio, Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, CA.
Conscious of the constructs at play when dressing and the cultural resistance of making, her aim is to awaken deep complications surrounding labor, trauma and commerce using her own body as an exploratory site.