This month I am celebrating the sass that Brooklyn-based artist & fashion & textile designer Elena Kanagy-Loux is currently bringing to the lacemaking table. Her career so far has spanned a whole world of cool. Kanagy-Loux spent her childhood between Pennsylvania, Oregan and Japan, went on to study fine art, design and history and began her career in fashion design in NYC in 2007. She has worked as a costume designer for Courtney Love and produced commissions for Hello Kitty. She is now bringing her talent and individuality to lacemaking.
Kagany-Loux was drawn to lacemaking during her studies and spent four months at the end of last year travelling and study lacemaking across Europe. In a recent interview for the Textiles Art Centre in NYC, where she is in residency, she talks about her trip. I ended up applying for the Dorsch Award, a research grant offered by FIT’s Art History department, to fund a four-month long lace study trip across Europe in 2015, and I won! I spent all of last fall and winter studying bobbin and needle lace at seven different schools in Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, and Belgium, and it completely changed my life. Kagany-Loux is now back in NYC working on a book based on her experiences and she has recently set up a brand new chapter of the Lace Guild in the city. She is now teaching and lecturing on lacemaking.
Kanagy-Loux describes her enjoyment of the slow nature of lacemaking I can be such a manic person, I feel like I need slow work to calm me down. Something magical happens when I get deeply involved in a piece I’m working on, where I feel like I’m floating away in the clouds. I can’t for the life of me clear my whirring mind to meditate, so slow work is the perfect way for me to have a zen moment.
When asked about what it is that she particularly loves about lace she says, For me it exemplifies the ultimate expression of femininity and representation of undervalued traditional craft, which has long been excluded from the art historical canon. It serves no utilitarian function, it can’t keep you warm, it’s incredibly impractical, expensive, and time-consuming to make – it only exists to be beautiful, and I truly love that.
On the future of lace Kanagy-Loux is positive, It’s sad to see lace fading in many parts of Europe where it once flourished. But, as I discovered on my trip, there are other towns, mainly in Eastern Europe, where it is still widely practiced and celebrated! There are also many up-and-coming contemporary artists using lace in new and innovative ways, which is exciting. Lace may never again be a popular commodity for the public to purchase, but I definitely foresee it expanding into the world of fiber artists and hobbyists.
Kanagy-Loux’s enthusiasm for lacemaking is, for me, a reminder, of the all of the very special and unique reasons that I myself love and enjoy this traditional craft. I can’t wait to see how her lacemaking continues to develop. Check out Kanagy-Loux’s website and the Textile Arts Centre for more about her work and teaching.
Tracey Wright is an NHS Recovery Worker by day & trying to be creative at all other times! Tracey is a member of the Aragon Lacemakers, who work to keep the making of handmade Bedfordshire lace alive by learning & making lace together. Tracey was taught to make handmade bobbin lace at school as a child & has returned to this craft in the past few years. Tracey is interested not only in learning about the history of lacemaking & its vast range of styles & techniques to contribute to preserving this traditional craft, but also in exploring how lacework is being used in art & craft today in new & exciting ways to show it is still fresh & contemporary.