Sarah Rosalena (Wixárika), a Los Angeles-based weaver, creates boundless forms that fuse ancient handicraft traditions with emerging technologies in textile, beadwork, and clay. Throughout her career, Rosalena has built a reputation for her seductive hybrid creations, forms rooted in indigenous cosmologies, re-interpreted through such digital tools as software and 3D printing. Born from multi-generations of women weavers, she works by hand from her digital Jacquard loom to her mother’s bead loom. She mixes hand-dyed natural colors including cochineal and indigo with a synthetic, pixelated palette to produce her dazzling unbordered textiles, surrounded by her featured deconstructed fringe. Programming her 3D ceramic printer to imitate indigenous coil pot techniques, she fabricates "anti-vessels" that mimic the patterns of weaving and basketry. Working with image software, she creates beadwork–pixel per bead–whose surface mimics the computer screen.
Throughout her work, Rosalena renders world-building on a cosmological scale that transforms power structures held by conquest and discovery. For her series “Transposing of Form,” she consulted with researchers at NASA-JPL to print 3D ceramic sculptures with simulated clay from Mars. She replicated her mother’s bead loom in “CMB,” a wall-hung textile whose computer-generated beadwork depicts the origins of the cosmic microwave background–unseen radiation of the Big Bang. Her midcareer survey, “In All Directions,” is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art, featuring several bodies of work dating from 2019.
She is Assistant Professor of Art at UC Santa Barbara in Computational Craft and Haptic Media. She was recently given the Creative Capital Award, the LACMA Art + Tech Lab Grant, the Artadia Award, the Steve Wilson Award from Leonardo, the International Society for Art, Sciences, and Technology, the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Art Prize, and the Craft Futures Grant from Center for Craft. She has had solo exhibitions with LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Clockshop, and Blum & Poe Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection at LACMA.
I am shaped by the origins, character, and 3D assembly of weaving. I work with textile and its surface topography, to discuss the origins of female labor within craft, computing, and indigenous forms. My work breaks down technology with material interventions, creating new narratives for hybrid objects that function between human and nonhuman, ancient and future, handmade and autonomous, beyond power structures rooted in colonialism. They function as grounds for forging new power, allowing for new opportunities and epistemologies toward digital materials and matter, between Earth and Space. Each delves into the conceptual and material intricacies of entangled states of being, in which binaries and borders become unfixed and blurred, where woven landscapes continually converge, collapse, and co-invent each other.