In January of 2020, Swedish textile artist Sofia Hagström Møller traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for a Weaving Lab residency. She was excited to work with the TC2 digital loom on campus. She also brought with her cloth that had been hand-woven by her grandmother as inspiration. When she discovered examples of similarly patterned cloth in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, she realized the project’s full potential to explore cultural translations and overlaps.
This exhibition of Sofia Hagström Møller’s work interweaves narratives of inspiration and iteration, function and symbolism, as well as the past, present, and future. Through the work selected, Hagström Møller investigates the roots of Scandinavian textile design and celebrates the legacy that American weaving shares with these traditions. By translating her grandmother’s patterns through the digital technology available to her here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hagström Møller’s work transcends language and travels through time and space.
The work she created during her visit to Madison is on view in conversation with supporting pieces from Hagström Møller’s ongoing practice. Along with a series of weavings created by Scandinavian textile artists for Marianne Fairbank’s project, Hello Loom, this installation marks the generative, creative dialogue happening between America and Scandinavia.
This exhibition was curated and mounted by Nora Renick Rinehart with support from Sarah Anne Carter, CDMC Director; Marianne Fairbanks, Associate Professor; Carolyn Jenkinson, Collections Manager; Adriana Barrios, Engagement Manager; Laura Sims Peck, Operation Manager; and Rosco Ford, Preparator. Graphic Design by Hannah Jablonski and Charlotte Easterling.
Lineage was held in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textiles Gallery at the Center for Design and Material Culture from January 26-April 3, 2o22.
Research and Inspiration
Hagström Møller draws much inspiration from her family. Her grandmother, Astrid Linnea Sofia Äng wove many of their everyday linens on a wooden loom built for her by her husband. Äng also had a creative macrame practice she was very proud of. When Hagstöm Møller came to Wisconsin for her residency in 2020, she brought with her one of her grandmother’s weavings: a tablecloth woven in shades of light pink. She was thrilled to find American coverlet fragments woven with a similar pattern in the Helen Louise Allen Textiles collection. Between the colors of her grandmother’s work, the scale of the fibers in the coverlet fragments, and the discovery of how American and Swedish cultures overlapped through weaving, Hagström Møller began a creative journey all her own.
During her residency, Hagström Møller produced three weavings, as shown below. The largest piece, Weaving Threads Through Time and Space, plays with the scale of its materials through the use of thick and thin threads. Its bold colors are another manifestation of this visual contrast. The composition is a complicated combination of the flower pattern found in her grandmother’s weaving and a blown-up illustration of the weave structure itself. The threads that cascade down the side of the work are a visual reminder that all threads never really end, they reach out in “time and space”. They are a playful, physical reminder of her personal history and her grandmother’s weavings.
The second and third pieces – created as a set pair – are a little more restrained when it comes to materiality; heavily relying on thin threads that create a smooth finished surface. From a distance, Macro / Micro of Daldräll 1 and 2 appear to be woven replicas of Hagström Møller’s watercolor paintings. When examined more closely, we can see that these patterns were also deeply ingrained in the woven structure of the fabric, thus playing with the imagery on a micro and macro scale.
Sofia Hagström Møller considers herself to be a contemporary craftsperson. Her practice spans a number of fields including teaching, freelance construction and fine art. Focused mainly on woven structures, her fine artworks are playful investigations into the unreasonable and unnatural juxtaposition. She uses both hand and computer-controlled looms to create pieces whose composition’s explore visual contrasts. In her words, “I believe that contrasts are necessary for human beings to orient themselves and therefore find their way in life.” Through diligence and discipline, Hagström Møller breaks down the incongruous and turns it into the understandable.
Woven Together: Hello Loom from Copenhagen to Madison
In August of 2019, University of Wisconsin-Madison Associate Professor Marianne Fairbanks brought her interactive project Weaving Lab to the popular Danish gallery and workshop, Copenhagen Contemporary. As part of this installation, she and Sofia Hagström Møller invited a group of professional Danish weavers to contribute pieces using miniature Hello Looms. The resulting 40 weavings use a wide variety of materials and explore a multitude of compositions.
Hello Looms are laser-cut, handheld looms approximately the size of a cell phone. Their compact form is easily transportable which allows weavers to respond directly to changing surroundings and work quickly through ideas. The only instruction Hagström Møller and Fairbanks gave to the weavers participating in the Copenhagen Contemporary exhibition was “to have fun” which resulted in a delightful range of artistic expression.
Woven Together: Hello Loom at Copenhagen Contemporary investigated themes of materiality and process while celebrating international collaboration in the digital age. In addition to the weavings, visitors can try weaving on Hello Looms at our Makers Station and watch a series of interviews with some of the weavers.
This project was made possible with financial support from the Danish Art Foundation, the National Bank of Denmark and the Grosserer L. F. Foghts Foundation.
The Center for Design and Material Culture is the primary destination for the multi-disciplinary study of material culture and design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Center focuses on the study of textiles, material culture, and design thinking and is a hub for innovative programs that engage local, national, and international audiences. The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Ruth Davis Gallery, the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, and the School of Human Ecology Innovation Studio support the work of the Center for Design and Material Culture.