Melissa Arnold is a textile artist that goes by the name Textillian Nomad. She lives and creates in the beautiful Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. To say that she is connected with nature is an understatement. Not only does she use natural dyes in her work like walnut, avocado, and madder, she has a dye garden where she grows plants like indigo, coreopsis, raspberry, lavender, and geranium.
The natural dyes give her shawls and garments a very earthy look, connecting the wearer to nature and grounding them spiritually. I asked her about the meaning and process behind her work ~ here is the story she shared.
I am a textile artist. I have been working with cloth and all forms of surface design for the last 30 years.
I have had three 13-year careers that have helped shape my creative life journey: Dental Technology, Art Conservation, and Collaboration with a Fashion Designer.
Fast forward to 2010: I realized I had amassed a wealth of information on many different textile techniques, and that I really loved to teach, share my knowledge, and inspire others interested in working with cloth and pattern. I began teaching workshops in the U.S. I was invited to teach at Felt :: Feutre in Canada in 2016 right after we retired to the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana.
To “retire” had asked me to “rethink, reimagine, rebirth, renew” myself at every level, much like everyone has been asked to do in these wild and crazy times we find ourselves in at this very moment. 2020 has brought so many unexpected surprises, chaos, and grief to our culture.
At the end of 2019, I had started to think about talismans, amulets, charms, and armor, those items we use to protect ourselves from harm.
I did a series in 2011 called “Shawl as Metaphor”, and this is what I wrote about it then:
“‘The shawl is a metaphor for “the armor for enlightenment in hard times”. This translates to using humor, simplicity, lightness of being, beauty, and elegance as a way of protecting our hearts and projecting this positive energy back out into the world.’
Now in 2020 I am bringing back the Shawl as Metaphor series because I feel we need it more than ever. There seems to be an ‘energy’ that is associated with these shawls which I believe comes from the fact that all my creative work is intuitive, and feels like it comes from some ‘other place’. Creating beautiful work has always felt like a spiritual journey to me… it is my therapy, my medicine, my magical power in the world.
The abbreviation PPE has caught my attention by the fact that it’s come into national and cultural awareness in 2020 as a necessary item to protect those workers on the front line of this pandemic. I am calling this series of shawls PSP (Personal Spirit Protection) to honor that.
I have been compelled this year in light of all that has happened both globally and nationally to put as much beauty and creativity out into the world as I possibly can, to live in the moment day to day, and to stay out of judgment and fear as much as possible.”_ Melissa Arnold
Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, Melissa. Stay safe, and stay grounded.
You can find more of her work on her website here: www.melissaarnoldtextiles.com or follow her on Instagram at @textillian_nomad .