Gail Rothschild
Since 2007
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

I am sculptor who makes paintings of knitted fields. I am a professional rock climber who embroiders dinosaur fossils. I am a landscape designer who draws seven foot long images of rhizomes: every root and leaf. I have made a career of acquiring new skills and reinventing myself, doing what is contradictory and strange.

I am kinetic. As a climber, my experience of the world is muscular and tactile. That is the way I make art too. Ironically, my drawings are not about visual experience. My process is cumulative and exploratory. Hanging off a cliff by one’s fingertips is less scary and risky than striking out across a vast page with pencil and watercolor but no plan or model. I don’t knit. But I discovered that I could use the knitted field as a substitute for figures, landscapes and cells. The stitches grow organically. I am not making pictures; I am exploring how the physical world works. I start with a program: like a single color, blue, and a repeated interlocking stitch. What I do is a naïve physics. “How do fibers in tension feel?” “How can I carve out the push and pull or the compression of interlocking connections?” I can’t help using the vocabulary of sculpture because I feel that I am making things not pictures. I am obsessed with the repetition of craft and with the potency of craftsmanship.

Although I majored in painting at Yale, immediately upon graduation, I transformed myself into a Public Sculptor. Each project required that I learn a new skill: carpentry, welding, horticulture. During these peripatetic years, I journeyed from college to museum, creating site-specific projects based on local history. But, as it became harder to make and unmake one complex piece after another, I began to think about Penelope. She wove her magnificent tapestry during the day, but by night undid with her own hand what she had made. I had photographs and narratives from each project, but I nothing that I could hold. Back in the studio I excised every line from the Odyssey that referred to Penelope and wove them together. The grid of those weaving pieces led me to search for a more organic structure - I found knitting. Over the past few years I have also been obsessed with the botanical structure of the rhizome. Rhizomes and roots grow organically on the page. When you work with an image long enough, it starts to have an internal logic.