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The Dallas-based, Mexico City–born artist Gabriel Dawe is known for creating installations of colored thread—extending rainbowlike diagonally across a room, cascading down a wall in a gathered bunch, or grouped in a multitude of loops that together create a textured gradient. For those in town for the Dallas Art Fair, this week offers a chance to see Dawe working on a new piece at The Fairmont Dallas for its artists’ residency.
The program launched in 2010, providing a three-month residency to produce a work to be displayed in either a public space or within the hotel. Whitewaller spoke with Dawe about the installation he’s creating for The Fairmont Dallas, a new piece from his “Plexus” series—a body of work made in response to architectural spaces.
WHITEWALLER: Growing up in Mexico City, you were taught not to play with textiles. Can you tell us about why you were interested in defying that notion in your artistic practice, challenging the ideas surrounding gender roles and identity?
GABRIEL DAWE: It was very frustrating to my eight-year-old self. I started challenging those norms a few years later, making bracelets with embroidery floss. It was a way of standing up to machismo, but in a way that felt safe enough, since I wasn’t actually working with needles. I’m not sure why I felt that was any different from embroidery, but since I wasn’t stitching flowers like my sister was, I thought it would not be as offensive in my grandmother’s eyes. As a grown man, I decided to finally pick up needle and thread, and consciously and overtly challenge those stereotypical machismo constructs I grew up with.
WW: Is it true that you had to develop an entirely new tool in order to create your large-scale, site-specific installations of thread?
GD: I’m certainly not unique in creating tools and techniques to create my work; I believe all artists in one way or another are constantly innovating techniques, tools, and materials in order to achieve their vision. [But] I’m definitely very proud of my resourcefulness and ingenuity to be able to create this tool, which was the solution to a very practical issue.
WW: As a Dallas local, how would you describe the artist community there?
GD: I think it’s a very vibrant community filled with wonderful, passionate people. Given that I travel so much for what I do, I feel lucky that every now and then I’m able to go to an opening and catch up with friends. I’m very grateful to many people in the community because they have been very supportive, and they’re constantly cheering me on.
This article appears in Whitewaller Dallas, out next week.