Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Linda Grashoff: Photographs Made Tactile


Linda Grashoff

Textiles are by nature time consuming to create. Photography, on the other hand, captures and can reproduce images with comparative speed. Photographer and textile artist Linda Grashoff has reconciled these differences by combining the two disciplines.

“My ideas and ways of seeing are rooted in photography,” she says. “But employing only that medium affords too brief an engagement to be totally satisfying. To get the most out of an image that I have captured with a camera I need to spend a longer time with the image, and combining photography with fiber work gives me that opportunity.”

Much of Grashoff’s recent work takes as its subject the Vermilion River near her home in Ohio, an area she has photographed weekly for six years now. At first glance these images hint at something astray in nature. The pastel colors of water and shore suggest either the presence of pollution or the artistic license of Photoshop. But Grashoff explains that the color is naturally occurring and benign, the result of oxygen-rich water meeting oxygen-poor water in the presence of certain natural compounds plus the bacteria that metabolize them. “Vermilion River Bed, July 16, 2002” is composed of a photograph taken on the date of the title, printed once on paper and once on muslin. The image was digitally enlarged and manipulated to reveal distinct pixels. By embroidering select pixels with matching embroidery floss, Grashoff adds the distinctive gesture of hand making to what is otherwise a technology-driven image.

In “Psalter and Reliquary” Grashoff pays homage to a collection of objects collected on her walks – thus, she says, “valuing even the mundane aspects of the material world.” The base of the book acts as a box to hold the rusted objects she has collected and each page of the book records their unique beauty. The pages involve different processes: a photograph printed on muslin and embellished with beads and stitch, a pencil drawing, a digitally manipulated photograph, a photocopy dissolved onto polyester satin and finally an offprint of the rusted objects themselves. The book’s strength comes in part from the level of abstraction captured in what is otherwise an extremely focused attention to objects we may overlook every day.

“The reality of the physical world is central to what I do with my art work,” says Grashoff. Citing Joel Meyerowitz who calls a photograph “close to the thing itself,” she explains that it is this notion that “keeps me connected to taking photographs even as I crave and relish the tactile experience that fiber work allows me.”

FiberArts magazine (summer 2006: 20-21)

image: Linda Grashoff “Vermilion River Series #3”