Artist Janis Ledwell-Hunt of Unfettered Co. crafts fiber sculptures that show the interconnectedness of our world. Calling herself a “creator of knotted things,” she uses macramé, crochet, and other textile art techniques to form pieces that unite seemingly disparate subjects. A set of human lungs comprise various mushrooms and a bird's chest cavity opens to reveal coral and more mushrooms. The pieces are beautiful in their intricacy and thought-provoking in the combinations and meanings they convey.
Ledwell-Hunt looks to the circle of life as a catalyst for her work. “I’m inspired (perhaps, more so startled) by the ways in which bodies, organs, and carcasses can be reimagined as surfaces replete with non-human life,” she tells My Modern Met. “I’m comforted by the suggestion that illness and death—when rethought as decomposition—are ways of nourishing different forms of life/living.”
Virginia Woolf’s essay titled “On Being Ill” has a passage that Ledwell-Hunt loves so much, she says, “It has probably inserted itself into my DNA at this point.” It helps to capture the essence of her artistic practice. Woolf writes, “[W]e cease to be soldiers in the army of the upright; we become deserters. They march to battle. We float with the sticks on the stream; helter-skelter with the dead leaves on the lawn, irresponsible and disinterested and able, perhaps for the first time for years, to look round, to look up—to look, for example, at the sky.” It leads Ledwell-Hunt to pose the question, “When bodies hollow out, what can flourish in those fissures? That’s the sense of post-human possibility that I’m trying to fashion in fiber.”
Although the heavy topics inform her work, Ledwell-Hunt wants viewers to infer something different. “I hope viewers will take away a sense of optimism from these pieces. But, truthfully, if they pause to ponder them at all—that’s the greatest privilege I can imagine.”