Polly Barton was trained by master weaver Tomohiko Inoue in 1981, in the heart of the religious community of Oomoto in Kameoka, Japan. Barton has been using ikat as the means for expressing her gesture of threads in woven silk drawings and paintings ever since. She weaves on an ancient kimono loom and works primarily in silk, although a few of the pieces in this show use a new Japanese fiber of silk spun around a copper core.
Barton’s new body of work furthers her exploration of the contemporary pictorial possibilities of the ancient dyeing technique known as Ikat. This method of dyeing involves wrapping a bundle of fibers with plastic ties to resist dye in a pre-calculated design. After dyeing, the ties are removed and the dyed threads placed on the loom. In weaving the warp (vertical threads) and weft (horizontal threads) together, the design emerges. Ethnographers recognize the historical and diverse traditional patterns of Ikat found in cultures around the world. Barton is keeping this ancient method alive, and is well established in the continuum of fiber artists.
Weaving as a spiritual practice has always been the foundation of her process. While tying an ikat dyed warp into the loom, the silk threads often slide a bit, causing the carefully planned design to shift. Barton is interested in how to gracefully welcome this shift as an invitation for growth. Her delicate weaving — one hundred threads per inch— builds layers of saturated color to create a woven membrane which changes in various angles of light.