I'm thinking there will be more of these. There are probably a few previous ones already but I couldn't find them in a cursory search.

Knitting and Tai Chi: fiber art exhibit opens at Flux Art Space in Long Beach

SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

Artist Amabelle Aguiluz poses for a portrait in front of a large piece of art made from cotton and steel titled “ngisi” at Flux Art Space on Sept. 15, 2022. (Richard H. Grant | Signal Tribune)

Fiber art and sound scapes created by artist Amabelle Aguiluz will surround viewers with the feelings of nature, home and healing at Flux Art Space in Long Beach until Oct. 8.

The installation of various knitted artworks centers around concepts of “home,” as indicated by the installation’s name. “Balay” means home in Ibanag, a language of the northeastern region of the Philippines, where Aguiluz’s family originates.

The name of the Indigenous ethnic group and language—“Ibanag”—means “people of the river.” Aguiluz evokes this relationship to water in its many forms throughout her artwork. Her large parallel hoops with interconnected webs of yarn “suggest flow and transformation,” according to a statement by Flux Art Space.

“I think there’s so many connections with water,” Aguiluz said. “I grew up in Long Beach, close to the water. Our bodies are water. I think I’ve always just been thinking about how water relates to my life.”

As viewers take in the “Balay” installation, they will hear an auditory collage of water sounds from the artist’s daily life as well as from local beaches.

“The actual movements of my body […] transferring the energy into the threads, those are mimicking nature and water flows and shapes that just are slow and repetitive, similar to the pieces in my work,” Aguiluz said.

To make her large knitted creations, Aguiluz attaches a knitting machine to her waist with a custom-built belt and knits while simultaneously practicing movements from Tai Chi, meditations and breathing exercises. Viewers will be able to see Aguiluz demonstrate this process in person during the installation’s reception on Sept. 17.

The spiderweb-like strands of cotton from artist Amabelle Aguiluz’s piece, “furaw,” create shadows on the wall of Flux Art Space in Long Beach on Sept. 15, 2022. (Richard H. Grant | Signal Tribune)

“I want to make sure that it’s not lost on the viewer that, yes, Amabelle is using fairly traditional techniques in terms of using weaving and knitting in her work; But her work is directly linked to her healing practices of Tai Chi and Qi Gong and meditation,” said Betsy Lohrer Hall, director and curator of Flux Art Space.

“So it’s nice to have that in mind when viewing the work because the overall installation is beautiful and calming and you get a sense of the artist’s presence in the space.”

Aguiluz began regularly practicing Tai Chi in 2017 after watching a live performance by a colleague during her time as an artist-in-residence for the Helms Design Center in Culver City. After suffering an injury, Aguiluz began to contemplate the abilities and limitations of her own body—eventually integrating Tai Chi with knitting.

“I really just experimented and tried different things,” Aguiluz said. “And that is something that just worked for me and stuck with me and I was able to allow my body to do whatever it needed in this process.”

Three panels of cotton and linen woven artwork that were combined titled “riptides” adorn a wall at Flux Art Space on Sept. 15, 2022. (Richard H. Grant | Signal Tribune)

For Aguiluz, she explained, art is a healing modality for the body and spirit. Aside from physical works of art, her installation will also include a sound performance informed by her experience studying sound healing and therapy at the Globe Sound & Consciousness Institute in San Francisco.

“I just want to also share insight to alternative perspectives of healing the body and mind,” Aguiluz said. “I guess my hope is also just that people can find those tools for themselves.”

During the sound performance “Agî” on Oct. 1, Aguiluz will also give a live performance with various instruments, including the tongue drum (a wooden rectangular drum with tongue-shaped slits carved around the top).

“It’ll just be a very intuitive, meditative project that just emulates the idea of water and flow and connection,” Aguiluz said of her planned performance for “Agî”.

“Balay” will be on display at Flux Art Space, located at 410 Termino Ave., until Oct. 8.

Flux Art Space is open to the public on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. or by appointment on Fridays and Sundays. The reception will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. and the sound performance “Agî” will take place on Oct. 1 from 1 to 2 p.m.