Bhakti Ziek doesn’t like to be asked “what is it?” about her work. She responds, “It’s a weaving.” If she were a scientist, she would be a research scientist, freely exploring possibilities without expectations of outcomes and end use. As an artist, her favorite pieces are her studies. For her exhibition, Lexicon, at the BigTown Gallery Projects Room, she has created a series investigating three ancient weave structures: taqueté, samitum, and lampas.
Ziek is a renowned teacher (she says her “higher self” is when she is teaching), and she often leads workshops that cover these three types of interlacement, which probably developed one from the other. Ziek likes to refer to her lineage as a thread of weavers going back thousands of years. As early as the 2nd century, some of these weavers were using taqueté to make figured textiles. Today the looms have changed, but the structures that create the cloth remain the same. In Lexicon, Ziek is attempting to bring the audience into the work by explaining how they are made.
Stitched samplers, illuminated paintings, Mughal miniature paintings, and Sassanian, Safavid, and Ottoman textiles are a few of the influences Ziek sees in her work. Letters have often been a component of her work, but now they are didactic as well as visual. She says that making these weavings has been an elusive quest—that she isn’t quite there, but hopes to get there. Then she laughs and says, “isn’t all life like that; it’s all a journey of hope.”