Spring Artist 2021 — Meredith Noles
When Meredith moved from Fort Worth to New York to obtain her second degree at Parsons, not only did her surroundings change drastically, but her personal life as well. Shortly after moving to New York, her mother passed away. She recalls her mother fondly, “She had a child-like wonder which was very beautiful to experience in an adult. I think that her wonder, curiosity, sparkle, and light [is] definitely something that I reach for whenever creating. [It’s] also the lens through which I see the world.” Some of Meredith’s earliest treasured childhood memories are of sewing with her mom. A pastime that eventually led her to Florence, Italy for a year. While there she apprenticed under a designer who hand-painted textiles for Gucci and Ferragamo’s runways. Her time in Europe taught her the importance of artisanal methods. Her experience would move her to pivot her artistic focus from fine art to textiles and fashion
While honing her technical training and creative endeavors in New York, she began weaving as a practice to connect with her late mother. She found the artisanal process to be meditative and a way to heal from her loss. Her graduate collection showcased her first woven piece--a testament to how an experimental outlet became a path to peace.
As Meredith was sharing this, her words really struck a chord within me personally. As someone who is also close with my mother, I deeply felt the pain of Meredith's loss while simultaneously feeling the surprising joy of healing and remembrance she found while weaving. Perhaps this is the gift Meredith shares with us through her art. “I want to be someone who not only makes people feel good about themselves, but also celebrated and heard. I hope that when people experience my pieces they feel safe and that my work can feel like a grounded place for them” she shares.
“I want the viewer to know that the curves symbolize the various maternal relationships [we may have]. Whether that be a close bond or a tumultuous relationship - the curves represent the ebbs and flows. The slashes represent challenges, enveloped with the softness of the material. I’m thrilled for people to come into Gifted and be able to reflect on their own maternal relationships [while experiencing my pieces].”
Unsurprisingly, Meredith’s thoughtfulness extends beyond a positive relationship those have with their mothers. It was moving to hear her speak about how some may experience trauma or turmoil when it comes to a relationship with their maternal figures--and her art reflects this. For an artist whose life’s goal is to make people feel seen and heard, viewing her pieces makes me feel just that. There are many nuances represented in her work-- large and small, that captivates my attention. While looking at her collection, my mind drifts from my mother, to texture, to pain, to healing, to finally, my own reflection as a mother. What kind of salve can a piece like this represent for my own child? Will art help heal my own child when she experiences turmoil in her own life? Thoughts dance through my mind as my eyes trail through the various calming colors and textures Meredith’s pieces so clearly showcase. What I discover is that this sort of self-reflection and interaction with her art was perhaps a part of Meredith’s master plan. This collection, titled Envelop, does just that to my experience while viewing her art.
“The fibers [were chosen] with intent. They are natural fibers. I incorporated primarily wool, wool blends, and cotton. The dyes that I used are made for natural fibers [and come from various natural resources such as sawdust and avocados]. Whether it's fine art or clothing, [if my pieces] in a 100 years just don't feel relevant anymore, I want them to return to the earth or to be reimagined. I also think that there's something about the tactile nature of natural fibers that is more scrumptious [than synthetic fibers].” With or without knowing, Meredith designed an experience where I was able to see the correlation of how natural fibers allowed me to think deeply about the most natural and organic relationships in my own life.
In my opinion, what is most exciting about Meredith’s work in Gifted’s space, is how her pieces invoke a child-like wonder grounded in the reality of loss. Her weavings bring a whimsical element inside the shop, while also giving the viewer a reason to pause and reflect--something I personally don’t do enough. Her art brings a beautiful energy, the very same one that Meredith affectionately remembers in her mother. It is a timely tribute as we approach Mother’s Day.
But in the end, it’s Meredith's inclusive view on “motherhood” that really lingers with me after I leave the space, “these pieces are for those with mothers, those wrestling with their mothers, those who never knew their mothers, those who lost mothers, and for those who found this love elsewhere. We honor maternal love in its various forms.”
Meredith Noles’ work will be available for purchase and viewing online, and inside Gifted until the end of Spring. You can follow her journey on Instragram at @edithleigh as well as see other works on her website meredithnoles.com.