issue 1 : Isolation
issue 1 : Isolation

The Exquisite Isolation of Chaos

The weaving work of artist Molly Haynes.

Photographs by Izzy Berdan.

Molly Haynes’ weaving is an investigation of structure. Fibers bend to the will of her loom; warp threads are forced to wrap the intersecting wefts. Order is the church. Synthetic materials intersect with natural fibers in an overt commentary on the tensions between nature and civilization. Color takes a secondary role; Haynes prefers to develop and explore through a minimal palette of black, white and natural. Occasional bursts of hue are tautly restrained, framed inside of a structured geometry. The resulting forms show a technical command, yet the playful array of materials suggests an openness to experimentation.

Haynes has been wrestling the concept of chaos since her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. She recalls walking on a sandy beach in 2013, encountering planted grasses which had dislodged and dried, transforming into weathered marine tumbleweeds. The grasses, she learned, had been intentionally planted, their roots employed to restrain the force of coastal erosion. Compelled to recreate order, Haynes gathered the masses of intertwined roots and stems, split them apart, and wove them into her work. 

Back at school, she found a large spool of sisal, a stiff fiber usually made of agave spun into a durable twine. She spent some time releasing the fibers from their confined twist. Untwisted strands have a defiant kink; they appear untethered. Again Haynes felt compelled to quiet them. A weaving practice ensued. 

In the present of 2020, Molly Haynes is back on the beach, this time in Cape Cod, taking a daily, solitary quarantine walk. On the beach she finds lobstering twine. Synthetic as can be, and the brightest of cobalt blue. She describes the find as ‘romantic,’ noting the unusual beauty of a mass of blue lines lying abandoned on the sand. The weavings that follow bear witness to this unexpected find. True to her practice, Haynes deftly isolates the color into the crevices of netlike forms. Structure compelling order.

The pandemic is defined by mass energetic volatility.  A virus roams the planet, an infectious zigzag jumping from body to body. Our effort to survive—to preserve our bodies and psyche—depends on confinement. We, like Haynes, are tasked to identify eruption and to enforce isolation. The strange novelty of collective vulnerability enables us to identify with Haynes, and with the impulse that animates her work: the drive to sequester chaos by the deliberate structure of isolation.

Learn more about the art of Molly Haynes.