Inspired by the Sheila Hicks’ statement, “home is wherever I am,” Tess Murdoch sought to create a personal inventory of domesticity within her body of work entitled Emotional Optics. She used an assemblage of machine knitted samples, digital prints, handwoven panels and hand-dyed pieces of cloth. Each piece from Emotional Optics was a product of grief, challenging the viewer to deepen their associations around grieving and what those associations could look like visually. She also encouraged the viewer to interact with the pieces through touch, thereby activating a more complexly personal sensorial experience. Murdoch created brightly colored layers of rectangular, hand-dyed fabrics using synthetic and natural dye stuffs such as cochineal, madder root extract, botanicals and onion skins to suggest windows for ocular wandering. The new surfaces she created were then hand-stitched together, developed out of interplay displaying or dissolving evidence of her hand. All materials used were donated or upcycled and thus given extended lifecycles; transforming grief through those materials, textures, and intuitive compositions. Beyond just the visual library created using varied techniques, Murdoch is most interested in the practices of healing that reveal themselves when producing textiles.
Tess Murdoch is a textile designer, artist and most recently, part of the first cohort attending Parsons School of Design’s MFA in Textiles program in New York. She grew up in Los Angeles, California and later studied Fine Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design and Laguna College of Art and Design. She applies the languages of painting to her creative practice, often challenging traditional modes of making and materiality. She is currently focusing on developing a personal practice in which she hand-dyes upcycled fabrics, creates materials out of agar and mycelium and sources only raw or donated materials to weave and machine knit into new cloth to "paint" with. Color and assemblage are the central unifiers of her work driven by intuition. Murdoch believes that ancient and new technologies, specifically in the rapidly growing biomaterial sector, can aid in the remediation of the textile industry as it is now. She hopes to expand into community-centric educational programming based on what it means to develop relationships with the textiles we interact with on a daily basis and how localizing manufacturing can lead to new kinds of circular economies.