BIOGRAPHY:

Frances Vye Wilson was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She was strongly influenced by her family of contemporary artists working in a variety of media. In her 20’s, she studied fine art and choreography at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. She went on to spend much of her life in the film and television industry as a member of the Screen Actors Guild, a theatre producer for the Actors Studio and founder of a film production company, New Century Filmworks. A 12 year immersive study of the Japanese art form Ikebana culminated in two exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She returned again in 2013 to New York to pursue her passion for art and in particular, sculpture, studying sculpture and mixed media at the National Academy Museum and New York School of Art.

She is presently residing in the West Village, NYC and works at her studio on West 29th St., NYC.

 

PROCESS:

 

In recent artwork, I have used cambium fiber of the mulberry tree harvested in rural Laos to convey my concepts. (Link to map). It was traditionally used by the Yao tribe for religious rituals, making rope and the wrapping of opium. Post the Vietnam War it has become part of an initiative to raise the standard of living of these mountain people in the making of paper products. It is an important cash crop and plays a central role in the livelihood of these small tribal groups. (Link to website) The concern for the region is that the increased industrialization and in particular the building of multiple bridges across the Mekong River are opening up this rural area and disrupting the villages way of life.

 

The wild mulberry regrows annually in fallow areas. Seasonally harvested it is stripped, boiled and pounded and in some cases bleached, then dried. It is at this point, from these small family collectives that I am able to get the bark before it is shipped to Thailand for paper production.

 

My process in using the cambium fiber from the mulberry tree is to first immerse it in a hardening agent I have developed. It is stretched, formed around templates, dried and removed. Adding natural elements such as branches, lichen and items representing a warrior’s weapons and totems of power and strength. In some work I have used natural plant dyes such as pomegranate, madder root, adding another dimension to a piece. As I begin to stretch and manipulate the material the veins of the fiber open revealing a porous network, a magnified look at the organic cellular structure. As these processes and fiber have not been used before there is a great deal of experimentation and risk through which the work evolves.