Currently on view at Quicksilver Mine Co., in downtown Forestville, is Adela Akers, Threads of Illusion. The exhibition features large and small-scale hand-woven tapestries created over the past ten years, including work completed just this year. Adela’s beautifully crafted weavings are composed of abstract geometric patterns, inspired by pre-Columbian, African, and other textile-based cultures, as well as architecture and more contemporary abstract art modes. The repetitive geometric structures suggest language, coded messages, and forms of record keeping. For Adela, whose work is strongly influenced by her science background, the mathematical principles contrast well with the organic process of discovery, allowing for her inner visions to unfold.
Akers considers herself an artist first, who happens to use fibers and weaving as her medium. This assertion is well supported by the complexity of her materials and process, which results in rich and detailed weavings. She begins with finely woven linen strips that are sewn together. Then additional materials are applied or incorporated. For example she weaves in horse hair, which historically has been used for upholstery fabric, but here adds elements of fine lines that soften the more hard-edge forms. She also applies paints and inks directly to the warp threads, or even to the finished woven cloth. Finally she adds thin bands of metal, which are recycled from the foil seals of wine bottles. These she cuts into narrow strips, then stitches onto the woven linen segments.
Adela currently lives and works in West Sonoma County, but her long distinguished career has taken many curves and turns. Born in Spain in the 1930s, and trained in science, she began her career as a biochemist in Cuba. She eventually moved to the United States, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. Later she taught textile arts at the university level on both coasts until her retirement. Akers has exhibited her work extensively, including solo shows in New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Her work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Design, as well as the Sonoma County Museum, and many private collections around the country.
You can also see a well-done video interview of Adela on the KQED Spark program. The video shows her working at her loom while she talks about her materials and process. The exhibition continues through September 23. For more information check the website, www.quicksilvermineco.com