Interview with Deborah Corsini

With Fiberart International 2022 coming up we wanted to check on artists who participated in previous exhibitions, see what they are up to now and how participating in the exhibition impacted them. If you are a previous Fiberart International participant and would like to update the community on the happenings in your life, please contact Katie Bulova at bulovakatie@gmail.com

Written by Katie Bulova

On a balmy day in May, I had the privilege of talking with Deborah Corsini. Deborah was a 2016 Fibeart International participant. 

She is a weaver of fifty years, trained in the French/American style of tapestry weaving, a slow process that builds an image line by line. With an appreciation for Navajo designs, Deborah often pays homage to the Navajo style with her pieces; this includes wedge weave, a Navajo technique that is woven at an angle to the warp creating lively graphic designs and scalloped selvedges.

Storm watch – Deborah Corsini

While this has been a year of isolation, Deborah has used this time to develop her art practice and strategize a move forward. Within the backdrop of the pandemic, a time when so many of us felt powerless against the surges of illness, fear, inequality, and environmental peril, Deborah was lucky enough to be socially distanced within her studio. It was a time for reflection, purging, memorial, and inspiration. It was also a time to initiate new art techniques, including collaging, paper weaving, and spun fiber.

Zoom Lunch at 12:30 – Deborah Corsini

Starting March 2020, collaging became a daily practice. For Deborah, it was an art form that offered a more immediate resolution while also employing much of the design and style techniques that her years as a weaver and textile designer have given her. Collaging created a forum to make sense of the new realities that were emerging around her and to identify her place in the art world. Collages also allow her to articulate the elements of storytelling that she enjoys that are reminiscent of tapestries; her pieces are a narrative of the pandemic year. 
Finally, the collages allow Deborah to showcase the skills that she gained through years in design and curating. In this time of reflection, all life skills were integrated into her pieces as long-lost friends.

Scribble and Tear Collage – Deborah Corsini

The collages are fluid in form and immediate in their topic, often incorporating the news, or for 2020, daily concerns. She has entitled them the “Corona Virus Journals.”   
The Corona Virus Journals become thematic throughout the year. Political events, houses, masks and nature inspired pieces are recurring images, as are playful abstract torn paper collages. She is up to three tomes that include the number of cases of covid, deaths, a record of the time passed, and loss.

Memorial for Christo and Jean Claude – Deborah Corsini

This is the first time in Deborah’s life that she has participated in a daily art practice. She hopes to continue the momentum even as the world reopens.
In isolation, Deborah also went through a lifespan of art. With the intent to organize and downsize, Deborah was able to concentrate on a new retrospective encapsulation of her works. Using techniques from her vast experiences in weaving, she pulled out long-ago filed drawings and silkscreens -some from her days at Rhode Island School of Design.
Mercilessly cutting these early works into strips, she juxtaposed word and image from today; what emerged are pieces that create a tribute to a life dedicated to art, weaving, and design.  
It should be noted that pouring through works from long ago created a sense of forgiveness and a new appreciation of her time as a nascent artist. For any artist, isn’t the self-criticism that lives in our hearts softened with time?

Corsini Woven – Deborah Corsini

These new practices and techniques create art that captures snapshots of emotion.  While the topics are somber and explore the despair of 2020, the images are saturated with action and emotion. Deborah assures me that she will continue with collage.

September 9, 2020
As Deborah is a Californian, it would be remiss to not include September 9. For Deborah, this date culminated in the despair of the year as it signaled a call from nature. For anyone outside of Northern California, the news listed an eerie sky caused by massive wildfires. For those in the area, it was a day without bird song, without sunrise or sunset, a day where the reflection of the orange-red sky merged into an orange-red bay. 
For Deborah, it felt like a turning point in our place in the world. She is changed, and so is her art.
She is focusing on more ecological practices. She is using materials within her studios, repurposing old artwork, over dying yarns to achieve new colors, and mixing various types of materials in her weavings. 
She has gained skills and begun weaving her own spun paper. The luminous pile photographed below shows strength in repurpose and an opportunity to be a visionary with reinvention and renewal.

Shifu Prep Spun – Deborah Corsini

What Fiberart International means to Deborah in her own words:

The Fiberart International represents quality in craft and diversity in technique and artist. The quality of the work is high and cutting edge. It was an honor to be included in 2016. As a Pittsburgh native, it was especially gratifying to be able to share this experience with my family and old friends. I really appreciated seeing my traditionally crafted tapestry among the fascinating mixture of stunning and provocative work. I appreciate this outstanding and ongoing exhibition that acknowledges the breadth and depth of contemporary fiber art and its continued relevance of expression in the world.

Deborah plans on submitting to Fiberart International 2022.

Deborah Corsini website https://www.deborahcorsini.com/

If you are a former Fiber Arts International participant and you would like to be included in this blog, please contact Katie Bulova at katharine.fitzgerald@gmail.com.