Some artists buy paint. Others crush up their dinner leftovers and use them to create new pigments for their multidimensional woven paintings. Victoria Manganiello is a New York City-based weaver, designer, art teacher, and consultant who creates ethereal sculptural installations out of thread. Though she spends her days teaching Weaving 101 and rope-making survival courses, Manganiello spends her spare time reimagining textile art.
Her three-dimensional works look a bit like disassembled looms, with colorful fibers stretching between vertically-hung woven panels resembling tapestries. “I think of them as woven paintings,” Manganiello tells The Creators Project, “because they’re painted, but I’m weaving my own canvases and building the abstract composition while creating a physical structure.”
The process behind her paintings is homespun down to the last stitch. She starts with raw cotton or wool fibers, spins it into yarn using a spindle, dyes the yarn in batches, and weaves it into an abstract pattern, sometimes dyeing the fibers while weaving. Manganiello uses solely organic dye, and often creates pigments out of produce from her kitchen, like turmeric, avocado, or the skin of an onion she peeled for a meal. Her finished works are stretched so they become canvas-like, mimicking tapestries or traditional hung paintings.
To create her sculptural three-dimensional creations, Manganiello follows the same process, but after the panels are spun, dyed, and stretched, they’re hung to create a geometrical installation big enough to step through. “All the shapes in my walk-through paintings are geographical,” she says. “I start with a world or city map, weave the structure, and use lines to connect points on different maps with the thread that goes between them. It gives viewers the chance to experience what it’s like to be between two places: both literally ‘on the map,’ and also in the physical space they’re occupying.”
Mapping has fascinated Manganiello since she was a child. Her innate knack for architecture and love for crafting, beading, and knitting primed her for a career at the loom. “Every time I dream, I’m in a space. I see colors and dimensions and sizes. That’s just how my brain works,” she continues. “Weaving lends itself nicely to mapping. […] I can take it out of 2D and put it into 3D.”
Manganiello was inspired by abstractionism after spending three hours a week for ten weeks in front of the Mark Rothko painting Untitled No. 51. “These big open spaces full of color and lines allowed me to put my story into a space; I was mesmerized by it,” she says. She hopes viewers use her installations as mirrors into their own lives. “When you create something woven, you rely on what you know from before to complete the task in front of you. It mirrors our lives: we need the previous moment to act on the next one. Our lives are a collection of experiences and each one is informed by the last. I want to allow for a person to find that connection, that space to pour their own experiences into.”
“El Trifinio” Installation: aprox. 9 ft x 12 ft x 5 ft. 2015, Exhibited at the Queens Museum, Cotton, Silk, Natural Dyes. Image courtesy the artist
Check out more 3D paintings by Victoria Manganiello here.