Terri Friedman’s work responds to internal and external uncertainty through woven tapestries. Seeing the act of weaving as a unification of warp and weft – or left and right brain – Friedman attempts to weave new neural pathways on her loom and in her brain, combatting a climate of anxiety and instability with fiber. The human brain is wired for negativity and catastrophe, with our fight or flight responses being our first reaction to anxiety. Neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to repair neural pathways has informed Friedman’s work. If tomorrow is just a thought, then Friedman encourages viewers to ask themselves ‘what can go right?’ instead of considering what will go wrong.
The work presented in tomorrow is just a thought explores the relationship between mind and body, considering the effects brain chemistry has on creating elevated emotional states and utilizing color, fiber, language, and abstract gestures to activate chemicals like Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine, and Oxytocin. Cultivating these elevated states and happy hormones is a political and personal weapon for Friedman that serves as barrier against indulging in despair. Though not representational or figurative, the work is imbued with an organic quality: orifices, uvulas, eyes, intestine-like cords, veins, and hair are primary in the work. Holes and cracks within the work allow light to penetrate each piece.
Weaving has become an extension of Friedman’s practice of exploring methods of painting without using paint. In previous bodies of work the artist explored painting through the use of everyday material, and Friedman brings her experience in painting, kinetic sculpture, and installation to the loom. Her meticulous process begins by drawing a work on her iPad and selecting fibers before weaving. These “yarn paintings” undermine a traditional hierarchy of materials, incorporating objects like painted piping, hemp cords, and stained glass with naturally dyed wools and acrylic threads. The warp and weft of these threads carry equal importance, as the artist embeds stripes or plaid into each piece. By strategically placing fibers of varying thickness and texture, Friedman creates pieces that appear multi-layered and borrow from other artistic practices: black lines allude to the solder of stained glass while disparate patterns placed side by side recall quilting techniques.
Language and color are employed in Friedman’s work to create somatic posters of urgency. Words like ‘heal’ ‘alive’ and ‘refresh’ can be found in these pieces, alongside a palate of acid yellows, dirty ochres, reds whites and blues, and hot pinks that envelop and camouflage their meaning, acting as a suggestion rather than a lecture. Friedman is drawn to abstraction because it “creates the most powerful picture of the unexplainable and unknowable.” It allows the artist to make sense of personal and world events, exploring places where the political and emotional bodies intersect. A response to anxiety, anger, and grief; each weaving is an agitated yet affirmative scream.
Terri Friedman lives and works in El Cerrito, California. She is Associate Professor at the California College of the Arts where she has taught both undergraduate and graduate students for the past two decades. Born in Colorado, Friedman received her BA with Honors from Brown University and MFA from Claremont Graduate School. She has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; CUE Art Foundation, New York City; CODA Museum, Netherlands; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; the San Jose Museum of Art; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and Orange County Museum of Art, Costa Mesa, California. Friedman has received numerous awards including The San Francisco 2021 Artadia Award, Facebook Artist in Residence, CUE Art Foundation Grant, Santa Barbara Arts Fund Grant, Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Grant, Albin Polesak Award. In 2022 the De Young Museum acquired her seminal work ‘ENOUGH’ (2021).