Edith Meusnier is an environmental artist who chooses common place materials to create large breath taking installations in nature. A graduate of the National School of Industrial Design in Paris, she has always been interested in textiles. “I’ve always loved playing with fabrics, strings, ribbons and threads of any kind. I like the lightness and fluidity of fibers. I like to manipulate, transform, distort and fabricate textiles.” Consequently she researched the history of textiles and unexpectedly found her technique in a Pre-Columbian plaiting technique called sprang. “Without tools, I can raise huge structures and I always feel a pleasure to make colors dance directly under my fingers, before deploying them in the landscape.”
In 1996 she moves to Picardy, in the forest of Aumont-en-Halatte near Paris and her interests came together. “I feel a deep connection with the forest, its changing aspects, its noises, and odors. It is all at once a shelter and an escape space, a place to explore or to experiment.” The forest became her studio and her materials were gift ribbon which she weaves into a variety of shaped nets. “The nets are in turn sensors and protectors; they seep, they ripple, they get through space, dividing or revealing it. They embody a tension between reality and the imaginary.” Her choice of cheap gift ribbons consciously reflects their special role in giving gifts and for festivals. She is also very conscious of “the ridiculous aspect of the cheap shoddy goods that are indicative of a society that puts more importance on the packaging than on the content.”
In 1996 she was discovered by the art world and she has been busy ever since. Her works have appeared in parks, castles, cloisters, courtyards and beside and over lakes and rivers. Sortilege was made for the Artec Festival in France and spans the L’Huisne River. The 42 pieces were placed over the river and in other places in the town during the festival in May 2010. Meunier’s art is seasonal and appears in spring and can last for six months or longer, and then she takes it down to recycle.
Her process is generally the same. “First, I walk a long time around the place of the future installation. I look at different elements of the landscape, like trees, river, hills and buildings. I come back in different hours of the day to take wind and different lights into account. I meet with people, we talk about surroundings and we compare our viewpoints. I choose a specific site, I take pictures and later I think about colors, dimensions and shapes to do a module that I repeat in a new series. There are no hard and fast rules. I play with time and I like to take a lot of time to do ephemeral works. “
She also leads collective workshops for all ages in school, hospitals, art-therapy workshops, etc. In 2016 she was for the first time offered an indoor setting in Belgrade’s Museum, Serbia. As for the future of fiber/textile art she say “textile art has the ability to sneak into the world of sculpture, architecture, but also dance, performance, and street art. I find it funny and revealing, the peaceful, subversive and humorous practices of “yarn bombing” or “knit graffiti”… is a contemporary thing. “All over the world, anonymous groups are created to question the urban life, to repair its faults or to denounce the totalitarianism of video surveillance.”
“With plastic ribbons, I draw in space an unusual parenthesis that questions the ambiguous relationship between mankind and the environment.”
Beverly Hall Smith was a professor of art history for 40 years. Since retiring with her husband Kurt to Chestertown six years ago, she has taught art history classes at WC-ALL and Chesapeake College’s Institute for Adult Learning. She is also an artist whose work is sometimes in exhibitions at Chestertown RiverArts and she paints sets for the Garfield Center for the Arts.