Interview with Nicole Bunting

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I have a B.F.A. from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Craft/Material Studies. I am really interested in the relationship between weaving, natural formations, and storytelling/journaling.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I try to travel as much as I can. Most recently, I went to Luray Caverns and was awe struck at the patterns that could be found in the stone that represented different moments in time. I am probably the only person to set foot in those caverns and be overcome with the need to weave! I also spent some time in Arizona and Utah a few years ago and was able to experience multiple slot canyons. Both the caverns and the canyons are stuck in my head right now. When I can’t travel, I do a lot of research. Just as the process for my weavings is incredibly important, so is the process of how the natural formations develop. I find myself reading geology books for inspiration and for fun.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My sketchbook is with me always. It has almost become more of journal than anything else since it contains more words than sketches. Sometimes it allows me to develop ideas, but mostly it lets me clear my mind so I can focus on my ideas.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
Mostly, I am dealing with limited resources and space. My studio is also my living room, so right now I don’t have room for a proper floor loom. Due to this, I’m working off of frame looms and experimenting more with paper weaving. I also just started making newspaper yarn which I’m really excited about. Working on this smaller scale is allowing me to do a lot of experimentation with technique and materials.

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?
Layers reappear in my work most often. Sometimes they are literal, where I have a layer of silkscreen on top of woven paper that has been written on. Sometimes they are more suggestive, like those in my piece “What’s Left”, where the different colors mimic layers of rock. The idea of layers plays a big part in the way I think about my own work and why I have connected the dots the way I have. If you think about the way a weaving is created: row by row, it mimics the way sedimentary rocks are formed. Limestone, for example, is formed with layer by layer of mineral deposits. Likewise, when we write in a journal, we write line by line. It’s this stacking of information that I find so compelling. In all three examples, the viewer has the ability to look back and discern what happened at each layer, thus telling the overall story.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
This advice wasn’t personally given to me, but when I first started art school I read an interview with painter Alex Kanevsky. In the interview his advice for new artists was: “Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread.”