For over a decade, the circle has been the central subject matter of the work of Janice Lessman-Moss. You could say that the circle is her Muse, and her weavings are acts of devotion, curiosity, and exploration about the nature of this abstract inspiration. Over the years, Lessman-Moss, like a scientist with her subject under the microscope, has systematically dissected and reassembled the circle in a variety of ways, and now the latest work, with its calligraphic quality seems to be writing the summative findings of her research. This retrospective of Janice Lessman-Moss' weavings, from the early 1990's to the most recent work of 2004, allows the viewer a rare opportunity to see the body of work as pages in a book—pages that build chapters—chapters that inform us of a myriad of perspectives and insights harvested from the circle.
This exhibition also shows that Janice Lessman-Moss is an inventive artist, using the loom to sometimes create works of sensuous texture and tactility, and at other times works with a smooth, graphic sensibility. Of course, Lessman-Moss never looses sight of the fact that weaving is a three-dimensional process, which allows her in the more graphic pieces to hide and expose threads at her discretion, creating the illusion of a single plane of color and imagery.
Although it might not be evident to many viewers, all of Lessman-Moss’ weavings involve collaboration with new digital technologies. Both of her personal harness looms are connected to computers, which she programs and activates to assist her process of hand manipulated weaving. Some of the work she hand weaves on the Kent State Fiber Areas’ TC-1 Thread Lifter (the latest digital adaptation of the 19th century jacquard loom), and some of the work she has woven at textile mills on fully electronic digital jacquard equipment. That the work does not shout out “new digital technology” is a testament to Janice Lessman-Moss’ creative methodology that involves drawing by hand directly on the computer, using materials whose scale and texture imply handwork, and, often introducing dyed manipulations of her yarns that can happen both before and after the weaving process.
There is always an organic, throbbing, energy of growth, movement and change in the work of Janice Lessman-Moss. She sees “the mathematical and mechanical systems, inherent in weaving,”* as well as its slow rhythmic building process, as an ideal language to express her concerns. The viewer will easily concur that her mark making and network of patterns lead to thoughts on dualities such as the finite and infinite, micro and macrocosm, and the seesaw of intelligence between the cognitive and intuitive.
Lessman-Moss uses her language of abstract patterning in such evocative ways that each viewer is left with reflections about their own lives and relationship to the larger world around them. Abstraction in the hands of Lessman-Moss leads to positive musings on the abundance and variety of life experiences, a sense of well-being, and the sense that change, the fundamental condition of all things, is unfolding in ever-expanding, mysterious, and beautiful ways. The circle as Muse has certainly been well tended and served by the artistic investigations of Janice Lessman-Moss.
Professor - Textile Arts
School of Art