Examining the large, gridded weavings in the Austin studio of textile artist Anya Molyviatis, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn she once aspired to be an architect. Her meditative, abstract woven designs subtly reference building silhouettes. The work is three-dimensional—an intricate waffle style that beguiles the eye—and made using complex dobby looms that are not unlike pieces of architecture themselves.
Molyviatis’ weaving practice is well-suited to a mind that appreciates structure. With 40 harnesses, her largest loom is one of only 20 of its kind. “The dobby loom is structure-based and repetitive,” the artist says. “I gravitated toward it because I love creating my own patterns, and I wanted to explore the three-dimensional part of weaving.”
It was in Taos, New Mexico, during a hiatus from architectural studies, where Molyviatis found her artistic calling. “I was surrounded by weavers,” she recalls. “After three months, I didn’t want to do another architecture apprenticeship; I wanted to do what they did.” So, she began apprenticing with a master weaver, and the rest is history.
While there is a digital component to setting up the loom that Molyviatis uses today, the weaving is still completely done by hand—not dissimilar from the Navajo weavings that first inspired her. As a result, her process is visible in the outcome. “Working too quickly or unevenly affects the piece,” she says. “I have to be in such a meditative state with a strict daily ritual.”
With the artist working eight-hour stretches, seven days a week, a large design can still require a month to complete (and that’s after she sets up the loom and hand-dyes the warp threads to match the mohair, which she sources from an artisan in Ukraine). Molyviatis aims to push the outer limits of her field. “I’m trying to showcase what’s possible with weaving. I want my pieces to have that ‘wow’ factor,” she says.
The textile artist has recently been busy with her “Bloom” series, pieces of which have been on view at Ivester Contemporary. Another goal of hers is completing a site-specific, three-dimensional weaving that subtly changes colors as the sun moves throughout the day. It’s ambitious, but so, too, is the question Molyviatis often asks herself: How can art act as a reminder of the natural world moving around us?