Q+Art: Textile Artist Anya Molyviatis Merges Art and Science with Breathtaking Color Gradients
Though born in Geneva, Switzerland, textile artist Anya Molyviatis spent much of her youth traipsing through North America's wild and urban landscapes. Her chromatic weavings respond to natural environments, re-engaging modern, disaffected viewers with the world around them.
Molyviatis is a self-described weaver at heart, but before she ever touched a loom, the artist developed an interest in environmentally conscious design. After graduating college in Switzerland, Molyviatis soon found herself stateside, studying sustainable architecture in California. From there, she went on to study ecologically harmonious, human-centered landscape design at Cal-Earth, where she refined her ideas about civilization and the natural world. “I started my career by studying sustainable architecture because I was fascinated by the relationships between humans and the spaces we inhabit,” Molyviatis tells NOT REAL ART. Her time at Cal-Earth built on that interest, encouraging Molyviatis to experiment with new materials and ways of thinking.
Now working with fiber, Molyviatis draws inspiration from color gradients found in the natural world. Her palettes imitate “pools of water…sunlight on a leaf’s surface, and the richness of the sky at sunrise.” Merging art and science, Molyviatis invites viewers to meditate on their immediate surroundings with shifting pigments that create an ambient sensory experience. “I use color theory to assist myself and the viewer in exploring the hidden layers within us and the environments we are intimately surrounded by,” she notes in her artist statement.
By reconsidering our relationship with natural and urban environments, Molyviatis brings beauty and attainable magic into spaces where they’ve long been forgotten. Her work looks at human longevity and climate change through an innovative blend of art and science, ultimately embracing a wide-eyed optimism for our future. “As I begin my career with determination,” Molyviatis writes, “I pour my artistic focus and energy into shedding light on what is possible in our world.”
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Anya Molyviatis discusses the magic of Alexander Calder, learning to work with the natural world, and seeing artistic perseverance as an ultimately romantic gesture.
Which books, art-related or otherwise, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Anya Molyviatis: The One-Straw Revolution (1975) by Masanobu Fukuoka—it is my bible. I think natural systems are at the foundation of every successful discipline. Through them we learn how to let go of control and focus our energy in the most efficient way. Learning to work with the natural world is a path that always leads to discovery in the most exciting ways.
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
AM: There are so many! However, with my heavy workload I’d really love to end my day with Alexander Calder. I’ve been mesmerized by Cirque Calder (1926–31) time and time again, and would love to step into his animated environment alongside him. If anyone can remind us of the magic in our spirit and being, he is one of them.
What are you trying to express with your art?
AM: How magical it is to be alive and tuned in to the intimate environments we surround ourselves with. My artworks seek to create a window that provides a vista of meditation where humanity can dive deeper into the collectively undiscovered self.
Would you work for free in exchange for exposure?
AM: I would work for free for exposure if it was the only means for me to keep exploring my ideas. Art is too important to hide away.
What person has most influenced your work?
AM: Dan Flavin, James Turrell, and Peter Beard. I’ve grown up admiring Peter Beard’s photographs and artwork, but as I started developing my own practice, I became highly influenced by the Light and Space art movement. My first experiences with Dan Flavin’s and James Turrell’s work changed the way I understood myself through color and architecture. As I approach concepts in merging our interior spaces with the natural world, I aspire to expand their ideas of light, color, and materiality in our sensational states of being.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
AM: Butterfingers, Taki chips, any kind of sour candy, and spa days.
What do you consider your greatest artistic achievement?
AM: I would say my courage, followed by my perseverance. I think as artists we become so accustomed to giving 100 percent of ourselves, we hardly reflect on how courageous and romantic of a gesture this is. I’m proud of myself for the fearlessness that fuels my exploration in all layers, depths, and notions of what it means to be human as an individual and within the community of Earth.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
AM: That life is not an act of receiving but an act of learning how to let go.
What is one thing you would like to change about the art world?
AM: Integration with the real world! A gallery or museum show is not enough to show a wide array of audiences the potential of art. Although it is a great platform for credibility and exposure, I feel it leaves the majority of people feeling disconnected to it. As I begin my career, I hope to open new environments and display formats in how art can exist in real environments and public spaces.
Would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist?
AM: Historically significant. I want my work to change the way we experience the environments we are entangled with for the benefit of nature and humanity. In time, these concepts and works will hopefully become a more standard part of the built urban environment.
What are you listening to in the studio right now?
AM: J.J. Cale’s Naturally album on CD. It stays on rotation almost 24/7.
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
AM: I’m in the beginning stages of a large project which merges 3D weaving, color gradients, interactive compounds, and technology with the purpose of uniting urban landscapes with the natural environment. Color is the primary focus of my work. I choose my materials based on their ability to exemplify the power that color can have in our environments.
I’m very excited about this project. It’s been in ideation for quite some time and has finally begun the beginning stages of prototyping. It’s also exciting to explore new tools, equipment, and collaborations. It still has a long way to go, but I love knowing that it will take me into unexplored areas of art and design. As I give it life, I’m excited to see where it brings me along the way.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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