To See Takes Time

By Catherine Connolly

This year, I went to a fantastic Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition entitled To See Takes Time at the MOMA. The exhibition was a collection of works showing subjects O’Keeffe had revisited numerous times through the years, meditating on the way her work would change over time even though the object remained the same. This exhibition has stayed with me and has continued to resonate with me regarding the journey that we have been on at Merida.

For six years, we have been working with Sylvie Johnson as our artistic director, and for six years we have been delving into ourselves as individuals and as a company to see what it is that we can contribute to the world of textiles and the world of art. From the beginning, we, as a studio, have always believed in making layered works of beauty, using natural materials, elevating craftsmanship, and uniting the maker and the receiver through meaningful experience. From the moment Sylvie met our team of weavers, craftsmen, and artists, she saw that we had the skills and potential necessary to create the textile works of art that she could not on her own. Sylvie saw in our studio the capacity to create unique pieces of movement and feeling—pieces that contribute to the conversation of the room, the mind, and the human experience. We saw in Sylvie the artistic vision necessary to guide and deepen our investigation of textiles and technique. This is what has led us to create works of art: it is the only thing, we believe, that could faithfully fulfill all that we want to do as a studio. This is what has brought Sylvie and Merida together, and it is this collaboration that has ushered us into this new era.

These past six years have been about discovery and invention as we have invested more time and energy into all parts of our process. From research to practice to experimentation and innovation, we have worked together to refine our skills and push ourselves further into the endless possibilities of material, tool, and technique. As is with so many things, we set out to change what we were making, but in the end, it is the making that changed us.

In this exploration, we have evolved from a manufacturing company to an artisan workshop. Tapping into our DNA as a studio, we have found a powerful reservoir of talent and we have challenged this talent to discover new things. We have taken up the hard work of forging a new path, staying true to the motivations and goals of our work and following the spirit of Anni Albers who believed that art and craft exist in a continuum, not a rigid hierarchy. In our experience, not all craftsmanship rises to the level of art, but all art is built on refined, disciplined, and beautiful craftsmanship.

For you, our amazing collectors, this means that we have closed the business that was our foundation and genesis. The plant fiber products that we used to provide no longer make sense with what we want to accomplish with the medium of textiles. In order to courageously pursue the work we find meaningful, we have closed the door on our past selves to open the door for our future.

This transformation is why the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition resonates with me. As we have been working, refining, and practicing—slowly transforming the object we have known for over four decades—we have discovered that, indeed, we have arrived at a new place in the world of textiles and in our field. This journey has been as exhilarating as it has been challenging, and as enriching as it has been hard. I invite you to give time to our work, and allow your perspective to shift: to see us differently for what we are pioneering in the field and for what these pieces bring to the curated spaces of our collectors. I am confident that you will find something deeper and more powerful than you might imagine and that these pieces will contribute to your work an element of introspection and connection not previously felt through textiles.

We invite you to experience our artist’s proofs in person in our New York Gallery, Carpenters Workshop Paris Gallery, Magen H Gallery, and Galerie 54. We are thrilled to have our pieces in conversation with such beautiful work.

I hope 2024 brings us all new ways of seeing.