Esther Traugot explores her own connection to the natural world with intricately crocheted sculptures and installations that evoke nature’s preciousness and fragility. Influenced by her upbringing on a rural commune in the southeastern United States where she learned to farm and revere all aspects of nature, Traugot is interested in “contemporary naturalism,” a concern for the environment in the current context of global ecological uncertainty. She sees her work in conversation with Land and Environmental Art, as well as Feminism. Christo and Jean-Claude’s wrapped structures transformed into sculptural wonders come to mind, as does Wolfgang Laib’s practice of painstakingly collecting natural materials and re-presenting them as objects of veneration. Traugot’s use of crochet, traditionally considered “women’s work,” to create nonfunctional art connects to the mediums chosen by contemporary sculptors Annette Messager, Rosemarie Trockel and Liza Lou.
In Traugot’s work, gold-colored thread hand-dyed by the artist creates a skin that wraps snugly around or within seeds, eggs, shells, branches, vines, roots, or fallen insects. This golden wrapping references the gilding of precious objects as well as the protective cover of bandages. The results are enchanting and heart breaking at the same time. The calm, meditative state required in order to create such painstakingly crafted work is apparent, and the extended periods of time devoted to the task are embedded in each stitch. Often leaving objects partially exposed, Traugot creates a metamorphosis that is almost alchemical: process and material have a symbiotic quality, rendering gold from ordinary substances.
About the Artist
Esther Traugot lives and works in Sonoma County, CA. She earned an MFA from Mills College in 2009 and BFA in painting from UC Berkeley in 2005. Her work has been widely exhibited, including a solo exhibition at the Samek Art Museum in Lewisburg, PA and group exhibitions at the Museo Brasileiro de Escaltura in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Art Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA, the Paris Art Fair, the Sonoma Valley Museum, Sonoma, the Begovich Gallery at Cal State Fullerton in Los Angeles, Muriel Guepin Gallery in New York City, Marin MOCA in Novato, CA, and Lotusland in Santa Barbara, CA. She has received numerous awards and scholarships including the Herringer Prize for Excellence in Studio Art, the Sarah Lewis Graduate Fellowship, and a Certificate of Excellence in Painting from UC Berkeley. Her work has been commissioned for permanent installations at Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek and Beverly Hills, CA. Traugot is represented by Chandra Cerrito Contemporary in Oakland, CA.