Liv Aanrud is a contemporary textile artist using her work to “slow time” and “hold fast” in a world that seems built to “commodify and consume”. If you recognise her name that is because Liv is no stranger to us here at Mr X Stitch and recently joined us for an episode on our NeedleXChange podcast!
How did your technique evolve?
I began working in textiles about 12 years ago while in graduate school. I’d just done my thesis show, which was all paintings…I was definitely a painter then, but I found myself with some time to consider this rug my grandmother had made.
To me it looked like a painting, so I started painting “portraits” of it. This led to me learning rug hooking, followed by about 8 years working in that medium, cut fabric, through burlap. Then I began dying fabric, painting the background cloth…all kinds of experimentation since I really thought of this work as a kind of extension of painting and mark making.
At first I was working abstractly, as I had done when painting, then over the years I moved into figuration… Lately, I’d say the last three years or so, I’ve narrowed in on tufting, I like the smaller mark which allows me to pack in more detail and imagery within the figure.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I think at the moment, I’m really interested in maximalism—packing in as much color and detail as I can into each inch of a piece. I want my artwork to feel unrestrained, joyful, psychedelic and surreal. It should be an escape hatch to the viewer—some kind of peculiar daydream in this unrelenting world.
Viewing her work as an escape hatch is such a perfect definition of how I feel when looking at Liv’s work. It feels like a portal into a brighter and kinder world.
What other artists inspire you?
Way too many to mention, but I want to throw a spotlight on Shanna Wadell, a painter friend of mine in Los Angeles. Her work is definitely utopian and inspiring. I definitely love Melissa Monroe, a textile artist from Portland, she doesn’t hold back.
Svetlana Shirgoff and Emily Silver are some wild cat fiber artists who are living extensions of their artwork. They are unflinching, fearless, punk rock feminist artists who embrace humour and awkwardness to punch through to a better world.
What is your favourite tool to use in your practice?
My sheep shears—I have to cut the extra threads on the back of a piece before I glue it so it’s my favourite kind of haircut. So satisfying…
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
Give yourself time to space out. We live in this hyper capitalist, hyper connected, overly self-aware culture where we are constantly expected to perform, brand, create, document….all of that, so it’s hard to relax and let ideas come in.
Throw your phone, take a walk, look around, get lunch by yourself and give your mind a rest. You have more ideas than you think if you just give yourself permission to think freely without expectation.
If there was one word I’d use to describe Liv’s work it would be free. There is a freedom in her subject that seems to transcend our rigid digital age of mass production. Each piece is a bold and immersive sensory experience and brings feelings of the hope visual arts provides for us. If her work is a portal into an alternative and surreal future, I would certainly like to go.