Artist Statement


Artist Statement

I am a Polish-American artist working interdisciplinarily using textiles, social practice, and print-making. Through my work, I hope to foster interpersonal and cultural exchange, bridging the divide between people from diverse backgrounds with the goal of promoting personal empowerment and collective action towards positive social change. My perspective is shaped by a childhood spent moving through different cultures, languages, and socio-economic realities; my family left Poland in 1980, and moved frequently over the next decade throughout Canada and the United States. My practice has also been shaped by the radical history and present of my adopted home in San Francisco’s Bay Area, where I was based for almost 25 years.

I use textiles as my primary medium in the studio, and in public projects as a tool for communication. I often reference domestic textiles such as quilts and curtains in my work. These forms and materials are familiar and accessible, and can hold important personal histories, invoking feelings of home and community. Due to this universal familiarity, textiles have a power to engage people from many different backgrounds. I am influenced by traditional forms such as quilts and domestic crafts, movements for social justice, utopianism (with all of its personal and cultural complications), and the aesthetics and resistance of occupied 1970-80s Poland. 

For the past three years, my work has focused heavily on textile-based participatory projects, both in my individual practice and through my collaboration Feral Fabric with artist Amanda Walters. Individually and as part of Feral Fabric, I have worked with a wide variety of individuals including students, the elderly, activists, the homeless, and people with disabilities in California, Poland and Berlin. Identity, representation, cultural exchange and social justice are always at the center of this work.

In the studio, I mostly make wall hangings, free-hanging panels and soft sculptures. Here as in my social practice, I am inspired by domestic textiles and traditional craft processes. Frequently my work manifests as some combination of textiles and printing, be that digital or screen-printing, often combined as textile collage. I often use site-specific, upcycled, or thrifted materials in addition to evocative fabrics like craft felt and black velvet. The works are mashups of icons, relics, references to the domestic, and communist-chic catalog photography.

In addition to my art practice I also conduct art historical and academic research, focusing most recently on the Polish School of Textiles, an arte povera weaving movement led by Magdalena Abakanowicz in the 1960s and 70s that redefined the meaning of tapestry and direcxtion of fiber art as a medium globally thereafter. I also co-publish Feral Fabric Journal, an online scholarly journal that highlights radical textile production in art, activism, and countercultural movements. I am the Journal’s art director, co-creative director, assistant editor and an occasional contributor.

I was born in Łódź, a post-industrial city built on textiles, once the center of commercial textile production for the USSR. My family left Poland as political refugees in 1980, and moved frequently over the next decade, finding community in wild intellectual Polish diasporas (think basement art parties and accordion dance music). My worldview is influenced by my immigration experience as a refugee child, and as a life-long member of a diaspora. I am influenced always by my family’s direct relationship to Poland’s Solidarity movement for workers’ rights, which was instrumental is dissolving the Berlin Wall and propelled my family from Poland to North America. My work concerns collectivity and radicality, and the desire for transcendence within contemporary culture.