Dallas-based textile artist Lauren William’s fiber canvases grace the walls of public spaces, hotels, and private residences around the world but her artistic origins began humbly out of the desire to create a wall hanging in her home. “I had a dining room with a wall that was begging for a large piece of art.” said Williams. “Unfortunately my budget for art and my taste for art did not align, so I took it upon myself to create something for the space." Since then, Williams has honed her craft in her garage studio in Dallas, developing her signature ‘Canvas with Movement’ tapestries that sway subtly and create textural dimensionality in spaces both small and large.
As a self-taught painter, Williams originally set out to create an alternative to canvas art and saw fibers as a material that could provide dimensionality while living comfortably within the allotted space. By suspending hundreds of single fiber strands from a wooden dowel, she created her first moving canvas–deepening the texture of her fiber canvas by adding multiple layers of dye.
William’s process may start with a plan but involves a certain degree of chance, working in tandem with the materials to create a unique and unexpected outcome. “The fibers have a mind of their own. I can fight it, or I can cooperate. The more freedom I give each piece to come alive, the more beautiful the result is.” In doing so, Williams has grown to trust the process of letting go.
“The fibers have a mind of their own. I can fight it, or I can cooperate. The more freedom I give each piece to come alive, the more beautiful the result is.”
A constant source of inspiration is her studio itself, providing a reflective space for her meditative process and a place of refuge to explore new ideas and experiment with different techniques. “My studio is nothing but cement floors, drywall and a roll up door, but looking around as I take a pause during my work day, I find color combinations that are so inspiring: the texture, grit, drops, layers, shapes and colors that spill onto my floor and splash onto my walls bring me so much inspiration.”
Drawing similar inspiration from nature, Williams’ often references childhood memories spent outdoors in her work. “I remember wanting to paint but not having a paintbrush one summer afternoon when I was about 7 years old. I ended up using a stick and wrapping a feather with string to the end and thought it was even better than the real thing. I’m sure there was a paintbrush somewhere in our house, but making it with found natural objects myself was my immediate reaction.” When working on specific assignments, her earthy palette takes cues from nature and the surrounding environs where her fiber canvases will one day live, evoking a unique sense of place with each one-of-a-kind piece.
Lauren Williams in front of one of her Canvases with Movement. (Photo credit: Carley Page Summers)
For an in-process piece that will eventually be installed at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego, Williams referenced memories of her time on the west coast and more specifically, long drives along the Pacific Coast Highway. “The first couple layers of this piece feature blues and greens to represent the ocean while the bottom half is an abstract reference to the beautiful California sunsets.”
Though the creative process isn’t always seamless, it’s a constant place of refuge and discovery for Williams. “Even when it’s a struggle some days to create in my studio, I’m thankful that art continues to find me. It pushes me. Inspires me. Excites me.”