Michael F. Rohde - Maker of the Week

Tuesday 27 September 2011


Michael pursued dual careers in biochemistry and weaving, but left behind a job as director of a biotechnology research lab in 1998 to devote full time to this work. Weaving has been a fervent activity for him since 1973. Michael undertook formal training in drawing, colour and design at the Alfred Glassel School of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Michael primarily works with work is fibre, mainly flat woven pieces, but his recent work has included vessel forms: "I've picked this less than common medium, having been drawn to the possibilities of relationships between subliminal texture and the interaction of light and colour. Having taken this route, the weavings can become an embodiment of the freedom to explore how colors relate to each other and to the surface properties of the fibres used," he says.


Michael uses pure colour and specific colour combinations of color and he sees these as having the power to speak to each of us, often producing differing responses in each person. "By limiting the vocabulary to colour and woven texture, the works are better able to stimulate reactions and emotions that these raw colour and spatial relationships can have on the viewer."

Michael's recent pieces of work over the last several years have addressed the impact of human and natural causes on the homes and lives of people. These include houses that disappear into the sands of war, are filled with rising floodwaters or simply vanish as the natural consequence of time.

Yet, without the foreknowledge of what is behind the creation of these images, the works stand as objects of quiet beauty: begun with white yarns of wool, silk, linen and other fibres: "I add my own dyes to achieve a range colors and contrast not available in commercially dyed materials. Like a painter, I mix my own colors to create something new," he finishes.


Michael's recent work has been included in the United States Department of State Art in Embassies Program, an exhibit at the American Craft Museum in New York, the invitational Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland, from Lausanne to Beijing, Houses for

Nomads (a solo exhibit at the Janina Monkute-Marks Museum in Lithuania), an exhibition at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego and the permanent collections of the Mingei and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Images, from top to bottom:

1. 'Water' 2009, tapestry: wool, natural dyes, 890 x 1220mm (35 x 48in)

2. 'Recollectionâ' 2009, tapestry: wool, silk, natural dyes, 1778 x 1195mm (70 x 47in)

3. 'Elysiumâ' hand-dyed wool on linen warp, 2489 x 1475mm (98 x 58in)

4. 'Sisyphus' hand-dyed wool on linen warp, 2489 x 1475mm (97 x 58in)

5. 'Sustainability' 2007, tapestry: wool, silk, alpaca, mohair, llama, camel, indigo, madder, walnut, cutch, wells, 1676 x 990mm (66 x 39in) (PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MICHAEL F. ROHDE)