Image of Beth Pollard ’21 at her loom
Beth in her living room in Providence, working on one of her four looms.Photo: David DelPoio
The Arts

Textiles, Textiles, Textiles
Five minutes with Beth Pollard ’21

By Lauren Campbell ’21 / April–May 2021
March 29th, 2021

I own four looms. This is all just in the past like five or six months. Before that, I did a lot of knitting and embroidery because I like to touch things, and in coronavirus you can’t do that. I saw the Brown Arts Initiative was doing grants and weaving seemed like a cool thing to do.  I thought, “This seems like my next step.”

Touch Much

I love doing labor-intensive things for no reason. Let’s be real,  we have machines to do it. Why would a human do it? I think it’s kind of ridiculous and so anti-capitalist. I love it. My current tapestry is a study on texture rather than a depiction of anything. It’s what I imagined a coral reef would look like if it could exist in the Arctic. The yarns themselves are made of different fibers, so they have different textures and widths. We live in a particularly touch-starved culture. I want art for touch instead of just art for your eyes and ears, and that’s what I like about textiles.

That got me a loom, then for my birthday, my parents got me a hand table loom, and then I have a travel loom and then I made this tapestry loom. I wanted to make a tapestry but the lowest price I could find for a solid size loom was $225. So I went to the hardware store like the good little Gen Z queer lady that I am, and I got $32 worth of wood, some nails,  and hooks. And so I designed this with my bare minimum knowledge of woodworking.

I got into textiles my freshman year. I had come home for the break and I was super depressed. I was falling asleep in  every single one of my classes because I had undiagnosed narcolepsy. In high school, to stay awake, I would stab my leg with pencils and pens. Knitting was a better alternative. I like clothes and fashion and I like doing things with my hands. But a lot of it was staying awake in classes. My mom is a really good knitter, so I asked her to teach me.

There was a point last semester when I really took over half of the house and I felt so bad about it. I’m just constantly doing stuff around the house, like I have a knitting project here and the weaving project down there and a sewing project in a different room. It’s nice to be able to relax and create and not just consume. Now I want to try to figure out how to, like, spin yarn.

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April–May 2021
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