Ramona Downey

Ramona Downey (b.1949, Pittsburgh, PA) began making textile art in 1979 while studying weaving at Fiberworks Center for the Textile Arts in Berkeley, renowned for its progressive and experimental fiber practices.  Encouraged to examine ancient aspects of weaving, she explored the use of non-traditional materials such as fish line and metal wire, often times dumpster diving for discarded elements to be used to create her works.  Her first commissions came while she was living and working in a downtown warehouse in San Francisco, where she began making wearable garments for the Accessories Department of Macy’s as well as woven wall hangings for commercial spaces throughout the city.  Simultaneously, she managed a bar and live music venue, booking local talent which eventually led to her being recruited in 1992 to become the first talent buyer for the legendary venue Bottom of the Hill.  Weaving became secondary for 27 years, until she returned to her loom and became intensely focused on the process of dyeing silk yarn using the laborious technique of Ikat, a method she discovered in the well-known book The Dyers Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi by textile artist and author Jack Lenor Larsen.  Ramona’s work combines natural and synthetic dyes with lustrous silk, producing vibrant colors and patterns shown through blurred lines that are uniquely characteristic of the Ikat process that originated over 5,000 years ago.  It expresses a distinct, contemporary use of color and shape that reflects the world around her.  Clouds are incorporated with shimmering sequins while abstract figures communicate with one another through vibrating patterns, surrounded by chevron stripes.  The purely technical, historical aspects of the craft are present, enhanced by modern forms and a rich saturation that gives them an otherworldly presence. 

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