Artist: Luis Arias
Exhibition: Welcome to the Weaving Machine
Media: Wood, fabric
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery
About the Artist: Luis Arias was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States in the 1980s, during the involvement of the US military in the country. Luis visits Europe very often, about once a year, to enrich himself with the art and culture of Spain, Portugal, Austria, and Turkey, among other places. While on these trips, Luis studies the languages of the local people, and enjoys learning as many as possible. He is also an avid football fan, his favorite team being Real Madrid, and he currently resides in Los Angeles during the rest of the year. His major is Fine Arts in wood.
Formal Analysis: The pieces of Welcome to the Weaving Machine were all hand made by the artist, Luis Arias, with each one taking about 1-2 years to craft, including the loom that he made by hand himself. Most of the pieces incorporate both wood and woven fabric, the latter being constructed on the wooden loom designed by the artist. All of the works in the exhibition are for applicable use; for example, the chairs in the gallery (one of which seen above) are used in the artist’s own home to relax in and watch TV. The wood is clearly shaped and smoothed by a masterful hand, the details and painstaking patience explicitly presented. The contents of the exhibition could all be found in a home, and they give off a very warm and welcoming feeling, ensuring they were made with a loving hand.
Content Analysis: Luis Arias created Welcome to the Weaving Machine to showcase the quality and worth of something handmade. The unique nature of the pieces allows the viewer to appreciate the details and applicable uses the works present. The artist wanted to make an “Anti-Walmart” statement as well, downplaying commercialism and cheap manufacturing for a more caliber form of expression. The natural feeling of the wood, accompanied by the natural colors of the woven fabrics, harkens back to a time before assembly lines and industrialism, a time when goods were created by a single visionary with the passion to build. Arias also stressed the importance of wood, and how it can be manipulated to create anything the mind can imagine. He drew his main inspiration from women, influenced by the female shape and form.
My Experience: After taking a close look at Welcome to the Weaving Machine, I realized the discipline, detail, precision, and patience required in order to work with large amounts of wood and fabric. I am in complete awe at many of the piece’s fine handiwork and love, and astonished at the complex yet natural machinery of the handmade loom. The gallery felt very calming, and colors of the room left an impression of simplistic values and ideals. Luis proved also to be a very charismatic, friendly, kind man, which is clearly reflected in his discipline and artwork. The exhibition allowed me to enter a different world, one of natural beauty and elegant craftsmanship.