Daniela Alfonso Chiñas - Ein Studiobesuch in Mexico City
Daniela and I met at the beginning of the year during a textile art stay in Oaxaca, Mexico. When we received our email with the list of all the participants, I was very pleased to find Dani on it. I've been following them for a few years now and even put them in my #fridayfibercrush artist portraits featured on Insta.
In the two weeks we got to know each other and our work pretty well. Watching her sit in the beautiful afternoon light in our textile art studio Texère and create thoughtful and often poetic objects using macramé, embroidery and weaving techniques was one of my most memorable moments of this wonderful experience.
I am very happy that my trip took me to Mexico City after our two-week program, where I was able to meet Dani again and visit her in her sunny studio.
Dani, we met in a small town near Oaxaca, your hometown, during a textile art residency that we both attended earlier this year. How did you hear about it, and what was that experience like for you? Have you learned anything new about yourself?
I heard about the textile residency from Caitlin, the founder of Thread Caravan. We didn't know each other personally, but we knew about each other's work. She contacted me and invited me to the stay.
I am very grateful for this opportunity because it gave me the chance to be inspired and hear what Daniela wants to play, try out, and experiment with. It also gave me the time to work with my heart and hands and integrate my new knowledge into my work.
I think that this break in our work routine is enriching, it gives us the opportunity to go deeper into ourselves and think about our work and what we want to achieve with it. Sometimes it is difficult to remember such breaks because we live in a world that leads us to believe that living fast and producing more is a symptom of well-being. But like many creative people, we can get lost in all these stimuli. I feel like I've gained more clarity in my role as a textile artist.
When did your journey into textile art begin, and what media do you work with?
I was introduced to the world of textiles by my grandmother, she crocheted and embroidered a lot. I can still see her clearly in front of me, sitting on a small chair and enjoying the sun in the garden.
She often visited us at home, and when I watched her, I became very curious, so I started to sit down with her and slowly acquire her knowledge. I've never been a big fan of crochet, but the embroidery fascinated me immensely. So I can say that I discovered my curiosity for textile art at the age of 5.
Daniela with her grandmother setting the roots for her love for fiberart
How do you go about designing a new piece? Do you work with sketches or notes, or do you just start and see where the thread takes you?
I always try to start from something, a text, an idea, an image or a space. From there, I'm always trying to figure out the best way to express these ideas: with what color, shape, material, or process. Once I've decided on a form of expression, I draw some sketches that give me more structure.
What I like about the creative process is that it's fluid. When I put my hands to work, I always try to achieve what my mind visualizes, but in practice, the dance or the play of hands is a time when I can discover new things, in which I can integrate my original idea or even something new.
Square knot ceramics sculpture by Daniela Chiñas
Would you describe yourself as a conceptual artist with a greater meaning, or do you simply enjoy working with textile art?
I think I started this journey just for the joy of fibers and textile techniques. This joy has also developed from the love for all the artisanal techniques of the cultures that surround me and to which I belong.
I'm trying to find my way and make a statement that defines me more clearly in my art, but I'm still working on that, so at the moment I can only say that as a fiber artist, I'm working on it for joy.
What inspired you to start your macramé journey?
Honestly, it's something that has come to me. I studied textile design, and when I finished my studies, I tried to discover my role in the professional world. A friend showed me the (macramé) technique and inspired me to learn more and give workshops to earn an income.
I started my macrame journey in 2015 when the technique was just becoming popular again. From then on, I started to get more involved in the art of knotting, which opened many doors for my professional work as a designer and artist.
What do you like the most and what do you like least about the process?
I have a lot of respect for the world of textiles because anything that is handmade takes a lot of time, and most people don't see the work until it's finished.
One of the parts I like the least is preparing the loom, but once this phase is over, the fun of weaving begins, offering endless exciting and happy moments.
Who are your favorite artists and what do you like about their work?
There are many people I admire, but in the world of textiles, there are two that I particularly appreciate.
One of them is Ana Teresa Barboza. She comes from Peru and studied at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Their work is magnificent, with lots of detail, mixed handicrafts and artisanal techniques. I've been following her for a long time, and when I see how her work has evolved over time, I feel great admiration and inspiration. With the help of her fine embroidery and weaving from various materials, she succeeds in creating such pragmatic images.
Another artist is Cayce Zavaglia, a painter from Australia who specializes in portraiture. I think her explorations of techniques, materials, and colors add something unique to her work. She has a base as a painter that allows her to explore embroidery in an extraordinary way.
What are your personal goals for Daach, your label, and also for you as an artist?
I could say that my path so far has not been easy, but I think that this is true for every entrepreneur or artist. I really can't imagine doing anything other than textiles and I would love to be able to integrate and grow my team in a social and artisanal way. For me, one of the main issues I try to think about as a designer is the value of what is made by hand and that this handmade art is well made.
As a textile artist, I wish I had more opportunities to produce my interpretation of the social world and existential things through textile and artisanal media, for the pure joy of connection and communication, without the constant pressure of capital. That would be a utopia for me.
Follow Daniela on Instagram here