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Jessie Mordine Young: Woven Painting

Artist Jessie Mordine Young calls her art ‘woven paintings’. Fibre Arts Take Two talked to Jessie about her work as a weaver.

This Friday Feature Artist Interview can be found at the bottom of this page.

Brooklyn-based artist Jessie Mordine Young researches, makes, and teaches textile art. She holds a BFA in fibre material studies and art history and an MA in material culture, design, history and object study. In addition to her art practice, Jessie also teaches at the Parsons School of Design. 

On January 1, 2023, Jessie embarked on the ambitious A Woven Year project, weaving one unique woven drawing each day for the entire year. Collectively, these pieces create a calendar of woven days, serving as an abstract journal, documenting her life as an artist. 

Jessie’s artistic journey has been greatly influenced by her studies and travels, where she gained firsthand inspiration from various textile processes, such as block printing, surface treatments, natural dye techniques, and appreciation for the social significance of these practices. This connection to the history of textiles and their role in communities is a central theme. Fibre Arts Take Two loved learning more about Jessie and her work.


Jessie says she started out as a painter in high school and became fascinated with the relationship between colours and textures, “But then,” she says, “I became introduced to a variety of textile processes, including weaving, by way of growing up in a country where craft histories and craft traditions are essential to the community, to familial lineage, to the history of the place. 

That was in India. My step-family is from there, and by way of luck and chance, I was able to move there when I was a teenager and started to explore these different textile processes. I became really fascinated with not only the process of making itself but also the idea of being able to create structure. 

With weaving, we have the ‘warp, ‘ which is the vertical end, and then the ‘weft,’ which goes horizontally through the warp. And that was really where I think it all clicked. This ability to basically create paintings while also creating structure.”



The landscape is a driving factor behind Jessie’s work, “I was always interested in painting landscapes,” she says, “but they became more and more abstract within my woven works. It was always there, a reference to place, to land and by adding different materials, I would create that structure. 

I would add sand and dirt or combine found objects into the paintings. It was really inspired by 20th-century modernist paintings, like Robert Rauschenberg and artists like that, who used a lot of found objects. So I also combined paper and collaged things to create the base, then applied paint on top of that. It’s almost like weaving made so much sense when I approached it. When I started to make my own works, adding in found objects and really thinking through the relationship between texture and colour and structure, it made total sense.”

100 days

A few years ago, Jessie carried out the 100-Day Weaving Challenge and now is near completing her Woven Year Project. 

The road to these challenges, though, was a long one, “When I first learned weaving in a more formal setting in school”, says Jessie, “we were introduced to frame loom weaving our first semester, but it was really an exercise to understand the essential components of the loom. We started out with the frame just to get a sense of the relationship between the threads and how we can manipulate them to make something. So, I tried it out the first semester of university but did not return to the frame loom until maybe two years ago. At this point where I was doing large-scale works, thinking a lot about how they would exist in the world and quite honestly, it felt quite intimidating to commit to making something at that scale that could take 100 hours, and not necessarily knowing the outcome of that work, thinking about just how it would find a home or exist in a collection or be put on view and a gallery. There was a pressure to it. And I felt like the fun of making was no longer present. It was at that time that I reread the Bauhaus weaving theory.” 

What Jessie learned about the women’s weaving workshop in the Bauhaus and how they experimented with ambitious projects helped reframe her work, “It just felt like an easy step towards focusing on frame loom weaving,” she says, “I was travelling quite a bit, I was not in my studio as much, and I liked this ability to pick up the loom at any point, and work on the piece. I also really enjoyed the limitations of the size of that scale. All of the pieces within the series are essentially the simple weave structure, the over-under and under-over, so I just wanted to push that as far as I possibly could go. There was almost this sense of fun that came with taking the most simple thing and just pushing it as far as I could go. So that was the 100 days, which felt like a really wonderful project that still felt unresolved. In the end, I felt like there was still a lot I wanted to explore, so naturally, the following year, I committed to a woven year, where I’ve been making one piece each day throughout 2023 to accumulate into 365 works.”


A unique challenge

For Jessie, weaving holds one unique challenge, “Weaving is one of the oldest art forms on this earth,” she says, “It was invented in a variety of different parts of the world almost simultaneously. It was invented with this need to solve the problem of shelter and protection for humankind. So we see woven buildings with reeds woven into each other or woven garments from centuries ago still being preserved in museums. And what that means is that even though there might be motifs that we see across the globe and in different communities, they’re all rooted within ancestral wisdom and indigenous knowledge. 

So a large part of my master’s degree was focused on learning about indigenous textile practices, and I think that’s been important in understanding how my own practice is informed by something that is inherently indigenous weaving and how to not appropriate certain elements to a point where it feels as if it’s stolen. 

I think the most significant gift from having taken years of textile history and art history is really trying to find that space where I can exist, where, of course, there are things that influence me that might feel similar but still feel like I’m carving out my own visual language in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s disrespecting others. I think it’s something that has also taken a long time to learn in terms of finding myself and finding that visual language.”


About the artist

Jessie Mordine Young is a Brooklyn-based artist who researches, writes about, curates, makes and teaches textile art. 

In one of her more recent bodies of work, she embarked on a project of creating daily artworks, which she calls “woven drawings” or “thread sketches.” These smaller woven works are deeply rooted in moments being marked by colour. Furthermore, the small scale of these woven works offers a sense of intimacy through its reference to portraiture. These pieces directly connect to her experiences in nature, where colour and texture become tangible references to memory.

Jessie is a recent graduate (2021) from the Masters Program in the History of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. She received her BFA in 2015 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) with a dual degree in Art History and Studio Art in Fiber and Material Studies. She is a part-time lecturer/faculty member at Parsons School of Design of The New School in NYC.

Follow Jessie on Instagram


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