Listen as curator Tina Oldknow, describes the object “Woven Heaven, Tangled Earth” by artist Susan Plum.
For Plum, glass is a metaphor for light. She works with it as a way, she says, to “concretize the invisible.” Plum prefers borosilicate glass for its high silica content and its strength. Using three-millimeter Pyrex rods, she weaves her pieces using a small torch.
This sculpture was inspired by Plum’s research into ancient Mesoamerican cosmology. Her woven work was originally inspired by the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the first weaver of the Americas. She later learned that the Maya and the Aztec used the weaver’s loom as a metaphor for the universe. This loom of the universe was believed to be constructed of filaments of light, out of which the heavens and earth were woven. The light strands become entangled around the earth, and it is the job of the shaman to untangle this “discord.” “Thus,” Plum says, “the act of weaving symbolically rebuilds and re-energizes the world.”