The Healing Craft Series: Gina

Name: Gina
27 years old
United States/Norway

About the series

The Healing Craft Series features creators sharing their thoughts and feelings on crafting and healing through crafting.

“[…] so many special and personal realizations can occur when we give ourselves proper room to experiment and grow without expectations, criticisms or validation from others!”


What kind of craft do you do and how long have you been doing it for?

Growing up, painting and drawing were definitely my main forms of creative expression, but during my time at a 2 year art school in 2017, I  ended up focusing on sculpture, installation and other 3 dimensional art forms. I found myself drawn to using textile or methods found within textile work in my installations which led me to apply to the National Art Academy in Oslo (KHiO) for a full bachelor.

I’m currently studying Textile full time within the Arts & Craft department, so the divide between work and play is very thin! My focus lately has been on knitting, sewing, weaving, and installation – usually with either natural fibers or reused/alternative materials.

What is your favourite place/time of day to craft and why?

I think there’s something really empowering about choosing to stay in alone on a Friday night, putting on some uninterrupted deep house/ambient dj sets and geeking out on art projects until 3 in the morning. Wild, I know! (Check out DJ Friendly chill mix!)

What inspires you (in life & in crafting)?

A big part of my motivation to create is rooted in this desire to explore the concept of and implications of shared experience – as in any sort of happening (situational, emotional, physical, etc) that two or more beings have individually endured.
I think it’s fascinating to think that some of the most intense, scary, or wonderful emotions that I’ve felt have potentially been felt by someone or something else. Regardless of time, place, culture, etc.

The idea of it makes me feel a little less alone and a little more connected. But a lot of those complex experiences are hard to put into words, and a big part of my practice has been exploring how those experiences can look and feel, oftentimes through installations using textile or techniques found within textile work.

How has/is crafting helping you and your mental health?

2019 was an incredibly challenging year for both my physical and mental health. I was experiencing intense dizziness and had a really hard time dealing with the anxiety that came with it. It got to a point where I couldn’t sit through a class without crying or needing to leave the room. There was one day where I was feeling uncomfortable and trying to force myself to make it through the class and saw a bin of leftover yarn under a table.

Studying in the Textile department, there were some knitting needles lying around so I picked up some yarn and just started knitting around and around. It was the first time I was able to sit through the class without having a meltdown, so I was hooked.

Crafting has always been an important part of my life, but this moment gave knitting in particular a huge sense of value for me. Knitting has absolutely influenced my mental state since that day and I felt inspired to make an installation piece reflecting on that to share with the public. (I’ll include the exhibition description below for anyone that’s interested!)

What is your advice to other creators (or newly started creators)?

One of my biggest pieces of advice to both other creators and/or new creators is to intermittently give yourself extra space to create and grow without watching eyes.

Sometimes I have to set boundaries on a creative project and decide this one’s for me and it isn’t something I need to share about. Not because sharing doesn’t have its benefits, but because so many special and personal realizations can occur when we give ourselves proper room to experiment and grow without expectations, criticisms or validation from others!

Anything else you’d like to share?

Exhibition Description.
Hand knitted plastic and bubble wrap found in garbage.
Title: Vrangforestilling, Year: 2020, Exhibited at Kolbotn Garasje Galleri, Size: 300x 8cm x 200cm flattened

In Norwegian, there are two sides of a knitted item based on stitches: rett and vrang. 

(Rett can imply a knit stitch or the “right” side of the fabric, whereas vrang can imply a purl stitch or the “wrong” side of the fabric. Vrang also can mean inside out, contrary, etc and oftentimes used in a negative connotation. Vrangforestilling can be roughly translated to delusion in English).

Vrangforestilling, also understood as ‘delusion’ in English, ranges from minor misconceptions and mistaken impressions to serious idiosyncratic beliefs and irrationalities.

“Vrangforestilling” explores how it feels to stand at a meeting point – between delusion and reality, confusion and understanding, suffering and healing.  It is the materialization of a mind trying to reason with itself.

We wrap our fragile items in bubble wrap and plastic. What do we use to protect a fragile mind? Arduous times offer the possibility for new encounters, revelations, and unearthings.

A string of unprecedented anxiety attacks led me to find solace in a handicraft: knitting. A technique demanding attentiveness while lending obsessive hands, eyes and minds a distraction from themselves.

“Vrangforestilling” offers a physical space to stand and face the vrang side – a state of limbo that allows the public to stand among the stitches holding together the mental walls we build up in our minds.
A space to consider what’s on the other side of our irrationalities, fears and anxieties.

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