I love how the Internet connects us to far-away people and places. Today’s interviewee is from Slovakia. English is not her first language, but she reads, writes, and speaks it well enough to communicate effectively and beautifully. I promised Terezia I’d edit her English as needed, and I did make some changes, mostly adding articles, changing some verb tenses, and rearranging phrases in sentences. I did not try to make her responses perfect English.
One of the fascinating and beautiful things non-native speakers bring to the table is creative use of language. When you don’t have the full complement of vocabulary and structure, you use what you’ve got, and this leads to some delightfully creative and effective expressions. I didn’t want to lose that.
I also tried to keep some of the unique punctuation marks, but who knows how those might have been interpreted or altered by the different programs used in the process—MS Word, email, WordPress. Even if they’re altered and not technically correct, they don’t interfere with meaning, and I think they’re a lovely reminder of the similarities and differences between us humans.
Name: Terézia Krnáčová
Location: Banská Bystrica/Bratislava Slovakia
School: I am studying in the Textile department at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, in the Free Fiber Art studio. The studio is focused on material experiments. However, there is a big focus on digital process in textile producing in modern textile technologies, such as TC2 digital weaving, Tufting or Digital jacquard knitting machines as well. Students have their own space and freedom for realizations and personal creativity. Last year I spent studying at Vilnius Art Academy in Lithuania, the autumn semester I was at textile department and spring semester I was studying at painting department.
What was your first exposure to embroidery, and what did you think of it?
I am not sure, perhaps it was some clothes for my doll, when I was a small girl. I used to play that way. It wasn´t art; I was jut decorating pieces of clothes.
What was your first embroidered piece, and what motivated you to undertake it?
Honestly, I don´t remember. As I told before, I think it was some doll´s clothes. And motivation, make it more fancy.
What made you want to pursue embroidery and textiles in school?
Slovakia has very strong tradition in textile craft and in embroidery or bobbin lace as well. Since I started to study Textile art I took Textile History lessons, the most interesting for me was old traditional techniques. I started to think about them in nowadays trends and materials. I like contrast in materials which present paradoxical meaning of an art piece.
To date, what’s been your favorite course of study? What has surprised you in your studies?
First course at Academy. It was such an exciting time, full of new experiences, information, skills—and inspiring people, of course. I remember that I had brilliant joy and taste to work.
What’s the embroidery or textile-art scene like in Slovakia? Are embroidery and textile art popular there? What kind of opportunities are available to artists?
In my country textile art isn´t, in general, very popular. People are mostly conservative for art considering mostly painting, graphic or sculpture. Textile is for them just pieces of fabric. Others see textile just as fashion or traditional craft.
Tell us about your Everyday Bread and Switch Over projects. What inspired them and how did you execute them? Sorry, I can’t pick just one project!
The Switch Over Project
I wish to have an ability to „switch over“ to avoid situations of misunderstanding and prevent quarrels coming from them. Sometimes „let it burn“ is not the only option. On the other hand, it would be great being able to freeze some nice moments to enjoy them, or being able to re-live some days of my life again. For the expression of this dream, I made my personal textile, dreamy, fantastic remote control. I used just white thread as symbol of purity, peace, calm and positivity.
Everyday Bread Project
A concept of my work was the expression of my personal relationship with textiles. I love textile art and I can‘t live a day without it. For me, art is an everyday natural need, just like sleeping or eating. I made a composition of seven, as there are days in a week, dry slices of bread, six of them processed by textile techniques. The seventh is just a slice of bread for Sunday, which is a day of relaxation. Everyday Bread art collection was presented at International Textile Miniature Exhibition in 2014 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The second exhibition of this project was The 9th International Biennial of Textile Miniatures, “Out of the Box,” in Lithuania, which was reinstalled in four Lithuanian cities: Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, and Kedainiai in 2015.
How was it stitching on bread, and what happens as the bread dries—or does the bread mold?
Yes, that is right question. It was about experience, some slices needed to be stitched very quickly while the bread was soft and some I let to get dry before stitching and worked on them after a few hours. Well the breadcrumbs were everywhere, it was crumbling a lot.
Describe your ideal embroidery or textile career.
Literally, I don´t have any dreams about my future career. I am just living from one day to the next and taking what the life gives me. However, I can imagine working as a free artist without any employment, to have private studio where I could work and work for some exhibitions and the best outcome would be selling my art pieces. 😀 But in Slovakia it is almost impossible. So maybe I combine it with managing my small gallery focused on textile art. I could have international exhibitions and symposiums, with some space where textile artists from different countries could come, meet and work together.
Where can we see more of your work?
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
Favorite tool that isn’t a needle, hoop, or scissors: a knife, a ravel
You must stitch a piece using only objects you find in nature. What do you do? I love walking in the forest, my hometown is oriented in beautiful nature, so I think it would be dry bark of tree.
You must stitch an accessory for an animal. What is the animal, and what is the accessory? If I should choose one animal, I think it would be a zebra. And accessory for zebra? : D maybe a blanket : / (maybe I didn´t undertstand question)
Nope, I think you understood just fine! A blanket for a zebra works . . . especially if that zebra is in Slovakia in the winter!
How many languages do you speak, read, or understand to some degree? Except for my home Slovak language just English on a communicate level. I am trying to learn German and Italian language as well, but it will need much effort and time.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? A baker. I love baking salty vegetable cakes, my newest hobby is making homebread. I can imagine to have a small, cozy bakery with artistic interior and designed furniture, full of nice smells of fresh dough and calm instrumental music.
You are skilled in many art techniques. What different technique would you like to combine with embroidery? In the past, I made some projects based on a combination of different techniques and materials with embroidery. I did embroidered photos, magazines, paintings on canvas, plastic, garbage or medicine pills…. Maybe it would be interesting to embroider glass or ceramic pieces.
You have to embroider a dessert. What do you make? Piece of my favourite Slovak apple pie called in Slovakian language „štrudľa“.
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? It isn´t a motif, but it would be an organic short cut hatching structure.
A place you’d like to visit: Geographically, my dream is to travel all Italy from south to north, visit many small beautiful villages and historical cities. Italian nature is very open and spontaneous—that is what I like about Italian inhabitants. Of course, delicious food and wine as well. : ) I am thinking just in Europe, but worldwide, perhaps Japan or Caribbean.
Someone famous commissions your work. Who is it and what does s/he commission? The most pleasing for me was when I received two emails. The first from Australian editor Gemma Warriner who is working on an art book about art from food, titled Food Futures: Sensory Exploration in Food Design (coming in April 2017), where my Everyday Bread project will be included. The second was about my Everyday Bread project as well, from Yasmin Yazdani, an editor from the online design magazine iGNANT. They wrote an article about that project.
Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.