Interview With Kayla Mattes


Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I’m an artist based out of Portland, Oregon. My work primarily takes the form of woven tapestries and installation. I studied Textiles at RISD which allowed me to develop a really strong technical background in the realm of textiles. After I graduated I spent a few years working on a material based jewelry line, which in doing so ultimately made me realize that I prefer to not really make wearable work. Since then I’ve been using my textiles background as a foundation for my art practice.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I spend a lot of time digging through the internet, usually kind of obsessively navigating through Google Images and Youtube. At the same time it’s important for me to take breaks to look through physical resources. I’ve been collecting this graphic design magazine from the 80’s/90’s. It’s no longer produced so I’ve been buying copies on Ebay. I find the structure of the advertising and layouts interesting and bizarre. The simple process of walking around the the city or the forests, even the grocery store with the mindset of hunting for strange visual arrangements can lead to creative ideas. I’m in a constant pattern of researching both digitally and physically.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
In order to get into a productive working rhythm I always need to be listening to something. Podcasts and Netflix binges are a big part of my day to day studio life. My loom is also crucial. It’s a Leclerc 2­Harness vertical tapestry loom from the 1970’s. I use it to make most of my tapestries.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them? 
Time can be one of my greatest hurdles. The medium of weaving is a time consuming one and my tapestries are very involved. If I’m working on a larger piece it can take a month or more to complete. I’m rarely impatient in the process of weaving and in a lot of ways I revel in the intricacy of weaving complex images, but at the same time I’d like to be simply making more work. The cycle of allowing my work evolve is slower when it takes such lengths of time to produce a finished piece. One of my big goals over the next year is to restructure my time in a way that allows me to find a balance in the studio. I want to push my work sculpturally and digitally. 

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work? 
Most of my recent work has been influenced by the established visual arrangements we encounter in our day to day use of technology. Whether it be the structures of web browsers, smart phones or design tools, I’ve been analyzing and deconstructing the familiarity of these digital interfaces. I’m interested in finding parallels to this language and weaving. There’s a mathematical gridwork to weaving that translates digital structures in a way that makes so much sense. Nostalgia also typically finds a place in my work. It’s a common argument that our reliance on technology acts as this cold hard wall separating true face to face interaction. I’m more interested in exploring the presence of tenderness and optimism in the way we associate our memories and relationships with technology. 

    Palette App    23 x 18.5 in.

Palette App
23 x 18.5 in.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non­artists)?
Gunta Stolzl is important. She was this amazing Bauhaus weaver who pushed a lot of boundaries in the medium. Mike Kelley is always a big inspiration. 

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given? 
Sol LeWitt’s letter to Eva Hesse, my favorite lines being, “Stop it and just DO!...Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world”