Conversations with Artists

July 28, 2013

HandMade in America talks with CSA artist Carla Filippelli

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Who or what are your major influences?
The inspiration for all of our creations from the very beginning has been the endless acts of creation of/by Mother Nature.  Our first focus, in 1979 was extracting colors from the many dye plants of Western North Carolina.   This extraction and the process of dyeing fibers and reeds opened our eyes to the hidden secrets within the natural world. Shape and color of course are apparent everywhere but to focus on the acts of creation itself have been our real inspiration.   After many years of traditional Appalachian basketry and using patterns of all kinds, we discovered the weavers within nature.  The animals that do not use easily recognizable patterns were our guides and teachers.  We watched spiders and birds at work, particularly the weaver birds; we observed beavers weave their logs into dams and noticed the tiniest mouse nest was woven from soft, found materials.   Suddenly we had become free from traditional patterns, and our work reflected this immediately and has never been the same. That’s when I developed the random weave style of weaving.  Some of our shapes for the baskets were inspired by the traditional forms of Appalachian basketry other shapes came out of a more random process that the weave dictated.

What’s your design process like?
We really enjoy creating large wall sculptures for residences or corporate spaces.  Working with clients about color, interiors, shapes etc is what informs us of what we want to design. Then a very left brain process takes place and we let the wild vines and reeds guide us to free flowing shapes and palettes that we feel will work with the design process.
Custom colors and sizes are our specialty, and working closely with clients is how we achieve good results.

Can you give me an example of something that inspired a particular piece of work?
Much of our inspiration comes from the natural world. We were on vacation in British Columbia a few years back and spent time on the rocky beaches playing with the long lengths of bull kelp that flowed up on the shores making interesting shapes and designs in the sand.It washed up and held onto other surf side stuff. We got inspired to create a large sculptural wall piece that flowed over a long 16 foot wall as the entry wall of a newly built condo in downtown Asheville; 60 N Market Street.

How have you changed as a consequence of your work?
Working my whole life in craft and as a craft artist has given me the greatest gift; self employment.  It has given me the freedom to work and play when inspired. Now I am able to  give back to the craft community through mentoring and volunteering.

How is your work integrated with the community?
We have worked with art consultants and designers who have gotten our work in several corporate and commercial  establishments around the state and nation. We also had a stint as artists in the Arts in Embassies program which loaned our pieces to foreign countries and ambassadors’ homes.
As members of the Southern Highland Guild since 1983, the craft community has always been an inspiration and resource as we grew into seasoned craft artists.

What’s the most rewarding part about your work?    
I am rewarded  every day getting to walk to work; to my little studio nestled in the woods. Even when the demands of marketing, deadlines or material shortages show up, I can always stop, breathe a little deeper and say “ how lucky are you creating and sharing work I have made myself. “

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