Mind over Matter in Visual Artist Michelle Litvin's Mindscrims

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The Chicago Spring 2010 edition of CS Interiors, part of Modern Luxury magazine, reveals how nationally renowned architectural photographer Michelle Litvin takes it easy:

“For relaxation she curls up on her orange Ligne Roset sofa and knits.

Knitting is derived from the word knot, which is an apt metaphor of life. Yarn is maneuvered into consecutive loops of yarn in a contemplative motion. Before lifting her needlepoints, Litvin meditates”an act which carries consecutive loops of its own. At the appointed time afterwards, the meditation becomes material. Thoughts and feelings are knit into an “architecture of thought, as Litvin puts it.

The emotional scaffolding that Litvin assembles is high contrast: sparse and dense surfaces, open and closed spaces. What Litvin calls her knitted art reinforces these qualities of contrast””Mindscrims. The first half (Mind) connects to meditation; the second (scrim) to matter.

In a commission by Montana-based furniture and object design studio Caste, Litvin knitted a triptych to festoon patinated steel cylinder lamps designed by Caste designer Ty Best:

Another knitted creation was inspired by naturally formed “scholars’ rocks or “spirit stones cherished by the Chinese who call them “Gongshi:

Both explorations suspend in air and become a focal point for meditation”even if viewing them is also an invitation to delve into intricate detail, such as this from the spirit stone series:

Both explorations are active degrees in contrast, which is also inherent in Litvin’s choice of yarn, sold by Habu Textiles, a New York showroom/gallery and weaving studio. Pictured in the center (below) is a 40-micron, ultra-fine stainless steel thread (item N-48 in the Habu Textiles catalog):

Surrounding spools are one of two types: a combination of 69% silk and 31% stainless steel or a combination of 75% wool and 25% stainless steel.

Litvin’s Mindscrims draw the viewer into a fascination with fabric. From their materials to their resulting forms, they play with a softness in fibers, embedded with a toughness in their metallic core. From a storytelling angle, this contrast of soft and tough is an enduring yarn in itself.

Nate Burgos

All images are photographic studies by Michelle Litvin of her knitted art and their materials.

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