Strand 01, 2021, Silk and plant fibers on repurposed fishing net, 84 x 31 x 4 in.

And Through the Wood,
2021, Plant and animal fibers
on repurposed leather horse fly nets with hames,
90 x 56 x 17 in.

To Grandmother’s House,
2020, Plant and animal
fibers with mixed media on repurposed leather horse
fly nets with hame, 85 x 35 x 18 in.

Portrait of A Woman in Love,
2021, Wool on repurposed rope
and canvas horse fly net, 54 x 17 x 6 in.

Down Canyon,
2019, Wool on repurposed rope horse fly net,
32.5 x 22 x 5 in.

⬿Back to exhibition

Amy Usdin


Through needle-weaving and knotting, I create abstract mental and physical landscapes on aging fiber artifacts—fly nets for horses and, more recently, fishing nets. The rope structures of these nets act as warp, their ragged imperfections woven into the new. This transformation becomes part of a continued narrative, informed by the familial moments and unexpected associations that their previous lives evoke. By giving these once-functional nets new volume, I honor the revolving intersections of past and present.

    - Excerpt from artist statement

Click works to the left (on desktop) or below (on mobile) to view full-screen.︎     @amyusdin︎


What is your selection process like for the materials you choose for these works? Is there anything you look for in a material or its previous use that makes it particularly attractive for incorporating into a work?

I look for worn nets that evoke a visceral response, ones that hint at life in their ropes in a way that draws out my own stories. Horses as social creatures are capable of human-like feelings and, for me, their nets can hold that emotion. Tattered cotton fishing nets, reminiscent of those made and mended for thousands of years, remind me past is woven to present. I weave fine plant and animal fibers into these nets as an act of mending but also to extend their narratives.

When you began weaving, you were caring for your elderly father whose health was in steep decline, and the act of tending to worn materials paralleled your experience of caring for an ageing body. Do you consider your works to be bodily in their forms?

I do. Much of my work is vaguely garment-like, vaguely anthropomorphic. While my suspended pieces, grounded by dangling rope, present bodily in scale and form, Portrait of a Woman in Love is my most literal representation.

How would you describe the way feelings of longing or nostalgia are part of these works?

I first began weaving as a teen in my parent’s basement. Reengaging after a forty-year break—this time on nets—made me nostalgic. As muscle memory kicked in, slowly moving the needle around the fixed ropes gave me space to begin to process and reconcile a lifetime of memories, often with opposing degrees of wistfulness and disillusionment. That dichotomy is present in my work—sometimes it’s longing, sometimes the dissonance of nostalgia.

My mother was selfless, sacrificing her health to care for my father. I see her in Portrait of a Woman in Love.

And Through the Wood and To Grandmother’s House begin to dismantle that joyful song about a holiday sleigh ride to grandma’s house. Holidays can be rough in any case, but the pandemic pretty much ensured grandma was going to be alone and that winter was going to be dark and cold. These are the sorts of stories my fly nets carry.