The Wefts Still Have Things to Teach Me: A Living Serape Weaving

29 June 2022
image description: a young Hispanic man sits crossed legged on a colourful blanket
By Francisco Berlanga
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I’ve always thought of my memories as threads—moments spun together to create some form of continuity. When I think of Mexico I see threads, too: fragments of a culture that I am a part of but absent from. Strands of connection that I must decipher.

When I was a kid, my family would go out on warm summer days and, under a shady tree, we would set up picnics atop a serape. I would lay down, put my eye close to the ground, and gaze at the cacophony of colors beneath me. I was enamoured by the geometry of the serape, its boldness of tones, its thoughtful design. As my eyes grazed the miniature canyons of thread that made up the serape, I spotted imperfections. Inconsistencies in the dye, nicks in the weave, impurities between the fibers. It was full of shortcomings but still, as a whole, the cloth was exactly what it was. Nothing more and nothing less than the fibres that made it, the strands of imperfect moments and memories that came together.

image descripton: a close of up a multi-coloured handwoven fabric

All images by Francisco Berlanga.

image description: a young Hispanic man sits crossed legged on a colourful blanket

About Francisco Berlanga

Francisco Berlanga is a contemporary textile artist who studied at Simon Fraser University. He obtained his BFA in Visual Arts and he is currently working towards completing his MFA at UBC. His practice is based on questioning identity, particularly his connection with his own Mexican culture and how one can inhabit a culture while being partially absent from it. He engages in discourse with his own identity through the creation of traditional Mexican “manualidades” that often take the form of textile works, weaving has become essential to his practice. His work makes connections between traditional Mexican aesthetics and contemporary visual language. His practice engages with concepts of inaccessibility and the role memory and language can play when someone is distanced from their own culture. He attempts to bridge the gaps between his personal and cultural identities by forcing connections between them and trying to understand the limitations that these identities impose upon each other. Francisco was also a founding member of Withintensions, a monthly Vancouver based artists magazine, he is currently artistic director for the magazine. His goal through the publication is to cultivate an accessible space for art theory that engages local arts communities through publication.

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