3 Questions Digital Series

Agusta Agustsson

An interview from Art in Embassies 3 Questions Digital Series with Agusta Agustsson, who speaks about her creative process and artwork at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Dili, Timor-Leste.

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Full Transcript

I’m Agusta Agustsson and I’m a fiber artist and I tried lots of other media but fiber turned out to be my first love.

I live in a city that is surrounded by a small forest it’s not a forest where you could get lost but there are trails all around it. And there is a big pond that you can look at when you get to high points on the trail so I can spend hours walking around and picking up leaves and other things that I might want to use to print. So where I live is really important to me, and mostly it’s the natural world that inspires me, like the Plastic Sea series might not seem like natural world but while walking in the woods I see people disrespecting our planet and I take a lot of long walks and during those walks, I get a chance to think about things I want to say, and I also get visual impressions of how I could create beautiful effects.

It’s a horizontal quilt maybe about 50 inches wide and it’s part of my plastic sea series, it came about because I was thinking about how much plastic there is in the world and how hard it is to avoid it. Going to the grocery store, and even if you want to buy fresh fruit, it’s like, how do I get rid of all this plastic. And so I started with bottles, I picked some out of people’s recycling bins on one of my walks. And I tried to print the bottles, they didn’t print that well because they’re round and you really need something flat to print. So I was standing there and there were grocery bags down in the basement so I took one of those, threw it on my printing plate and it printed beautifully, and after I had played with the bags I figured out ways to print the bottles and I added plastic straws to the mix. My whole idea was to make it really beautiful and intriguing, so you wouldn’t know right away what you were looking at, because that’s what plastic is, it’s something that seduces you, it seduced all of us, so easy to use and convenient. And we were seduced into using it and I want my quilts to seduce people the same way, only after a bit of contemplation realize what’s happening.

I think it’s an appropriate place for it to be because the Western world has polluted so much of the world and impacted countries like Dili, and we really need to think about our responsibility and not just ignore what we’ve been doing to the rest of the world, and this is my small way of doing that.

Well my process and my inspiration kind of go together, when I am walking in the woods, I draw inspriration so that becomes part of my process, and when I’m there, I also pick up things that I can print with. I print fabric to use, and after I’ve printed it, I throw it on the floor and create my designs from there. But the printing is really important because it’s really easy to get stuck, and since I have several different parts to my process, if one part has me stuck, then I just go to another part. Until I’m unstuck. For instance, the printing is really intuitive, so I can print up piles of fabric and the fabric can then inspire me, so if I’m stuck I can go to printing. Or if the printing just isn’t inspiring me, then I can go to the cutting and stitching together. And the last part of the process is the quilting. And I think of that like drawing. I push the fabric around underneath my machine and I create linear elements in my quilts. I don’t have a fancy machine, I just have one where I push the fabric around and the whole physicality of that is something that keeps me going. At first I hated the quilting, and that was when I was doing more traditional quilts and I said I have to find a way that I don’t hate it, because it’s so important to finishing a piece, quilting. So when I discovered that I could draw with my machine, then it suddenly all clicked together and I could find joy from every part of the process.