Design

Textile Artist Monica Hofstadter On Creating An Ethereal Dwelling

The Brooklyn-based artist discusses how her line, DOUCEMENT, emerged from her desire to consistently re-create a sense of home and divine comfort.

Textile Artist Monica Hofstadter On Creating An Ethereal Dwelling
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Brooklyn-based textile designer Monica Hofstadter’s works conjure a world of divine comfort. Her unique hand-made blankets, pillows, rugs, and objects are meditations on texture, mimicking nature’s organic forms and possessing an airy, cloud-like lightness. In her own words, each object “blurs the lines between minimalist art and decadent creature comfort.” Inspired by the tangibility of both natural and synthetic fibers and a love for being at home; Hofstadter’s process is guided primarily by the sense of touch and a desire for a sacred space. Using a range of materials from luxurious yarns to cellophane, Hofstadter’s her works invite sensual engagement, offering healing through texture and touch.

Ravelin Magazine

Hi Monica! Let’s start with your background. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I grew up moving between the Midwest, the Bay Area, and Italy. I moved to New York City when I was 17 to attend art and design school, and have been living here ever since.

How did you first become interested in textiles and textile objects? When did you begin your line, Doucement?

Textiles and materiality have always been of interest to meever since I was a little girl, knitting ugly scarves with giant accidental holes in them. Because I’ve moved around so much all my life, it is in my nature to consistently re-create a sense of home and place. Textiles are the basis for nomadic dwellings. My practice of making fabric objects has grown organically out of a series of ephemeral living situations. I started Doucement in 2016 to share the softness of home.

Your work blends together natural, luxuriously soft fibers with artificial, incandescent plastics. What drew you to the relationship between these two supposed opposites?

It’s a sort of yin yang of luxury materials. Natural fibers are immediately beloved by most people, and their value is inherently felt. While plastic is a beautiful material that has many unique properties, its primary function is to be cheap and disposable. Seeing plastic as a luxurious and special material offers an entirely new perspective to the practice of discarding wrappers and lids and so on…basically you start to notice how much plastic we use all the time and how bizarre it is.

In your piece, Meditations in an Emergency Blanket, you crochet a mandala structure out of a silver mylar emergency blanket. Can you talk a bit about your choice of material, and the tangibility of it?

This piece is so dear to me. It is a six foot granny square made with a super chunky mylar yarn that I spun. I love granny squares so much; for their elegant concentric geometry, but also for the familiarity and homely feeling they possess. I made this piece at a period in my life where I was feeling some uncertainty. I had this urge to make a meditation blanket. The practice of moving around the piece to crochet each plastic square reminded me of a cosmic mandala.

Is the practice of knitting and crocheting a meditative practice for you?

When I am knitting, each stitch has a mantra spoken to it; perhaps some singing too, or a beautiful scent is burning. I hope that all of that is embedded in the fabric.

Ravelin Magazine
Textiles are the basis for nomadic dwellings. My practice of making fabric objects has grown organically out of a series of ephemeral living situations.
Ravelin Magazine
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Ravelin Magazine

A lot of your work breaks down the boundaries between minimalist art objects and functional pieces. How important is the functionality of your works to you?

Functionality is not a particularly high priority for me. However, something that I do feel is often left out of fine art contexts is the opportunity to touch and have a physical relationship with an object. I’ve so wanted to touch some of the sculptures on display in museums and galleries! I like that there is an approachability and the possibility for a sensual relationship in the things I make.

Your textures often appear to imitate nature; with the placement of sporadic holes; extensions and overgrowths which evoke feelings of moss or fungi; light, cloud-like pillows and blankets; and intimations of the celestial night sky. Where do you derive the inspiration for your pieces from?

I love how you describe it! A friend of mine recently joked that the blankets appear moth-eaten, asking “who makes a blanket with holes in it?!”  My inspiration comes from the people and animals in my life, and the places I go.

What are some practices you do to keep you grounded and to stay creative?

The embrace of chaos. Using social media less. Taking periods to not be creative at all.  Keeping the inner narrative close and intimate.

Ravelin Magazine
When I am knitting, each stitch has a mantra spoken to it; perhaps some singing too, or a beautiful scent is burning. I hope that all of that is embedded in the fabric.
Ravelin Magazine

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