Amanda Thatch: “Tromp as Writ”

3 rolled fabrics side-by-side in 3 different color ways: blue, marron, and green.

A Design Studies Master in Fine Arts Online Exhibition.

Launching here: April 16, 2021.


To weavers, the phrase “tromp as writ” means that the sequence of threading is repeated in the foot-operated treadling; a single set of instructions can function for both setting up the loom and for the movement of the weaver’s feet while working. The works in this exhibition explore the interaction of text and pattern through hand-woven images derived from observations while walking. In this case, “tromp” is both the movement of feet on the loom and against the pavement as many of us took to walking for solace during the pandemic, bringing a new awareness of our surroundings. The “writ” is the notation of the weaving draft as well as the text-based writing systems that try to codify ineffable experience in language. Between these two words, a conjunction of only two letters points to the vast and complex interlacing of action, language, movement, pattern, and symbolic notation.


About Amanda Thatch

Amanda Thatch is a textile, book, and paper artist, and is currently an MFA candidate in Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is interested in exploring art-making and language use as linked, embodied practices; her work focuses on the crossovers between words and weaving as both structure and material. Thatch has a BFA in Sculpture from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and learned to weave while a Core Fellow at Penland School of Craft. She later served as the studio coordinator for textiles and drawing/painting at Penland before moving to Madison in 2018.

She says of her work:

“My work explores convergences between weaving, writing, and personal experience. I invite possibilities of cloth that suggest a more expansive relationship to language. Cloth is one way to illustrate how complex interrelatedness can convey comfort rather than fear, how pliability and repair are part of survival. Weaving is one way of talking about fluid movement between opposites, and what can be created in that space.

Words are essential to how we form connections but are inadequate to enclose certain types of knowledge. My daily avalanche of textual information is often so overwhelming that it dissolves into abstraction. My studio work processes an atmosphere of words that are full of significance but impervious to access. And yet, what might emerge, change, or multiply if the automatic impulse to read is redirected to a material experience? If we could broaden and slow our attention to take in surrounding complexity along with linguistic messaging, what might we discover about our powers of recognition, imagination, and connection?

Writing is a social technology, a system that depends on shared knowledge. By combining writing and weaving, I conflate structure and syntax into haptic knowledge. Cloth is one story of resilience, of interdependence, that we can use to imagine how to be together, how to be of use.”


woven textile in various colors of blue. Split screen: one side depicts a tree, the other text.
Amanda Thatch. “Passage/Means of crossing.” Tencel, wool, and silk yarns, handwoven on digital TC2 loom. 2021.

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“Tromp as Writ” is a Design Studies Master in Fine Arts Exhibition for the Spring Semester 2021. Originally intended to be installed in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, the exhibition is supported by the Design Studies Program at the School of Human Ecology. Private installation and events occurred April 16-April 23, 2021. The exhibition is not open to the public.