We sat down with Ellen Arolin, an emerging artist of the textile arts whose journey weaves together a rich tapestry of tradition, innovation, and personal narrative. From the gentle rhythm of crocheting in her childhood to the intricate dance of hand weaving in her academic pursuits, Ellen's artistic odyssey is a testament to the enduring power of creativity. As she prepares to unveil her latest works, we delve into the depths of her creative process, exploring the intersections of tradition and modernity, personal experience, and artistic expression.

Ellen's journey is a symphony of inspiration. Drawing from the wellspring of tradition while embracing the ever-evolving currents of innovation, she crafts artworks that transcend mere aesthetics, becoming vessels for stories untold and emotions unspoken. Through her intimate portraits and grand tapestries, Ellen invites us to journey alongside her, to explore the boundless realms of human experience woven into every thread and fiber. Join us as we unravel the threads of creativity and discover the magic that lies within the artistry of Ellen Arolin.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

COMA: Let's dive into your journey, Ellen. What sparked your interest in textile art and led you down this creative path?

Ellen: From a young age, I was drawn to crafting, particularly crocheting and sewing clothes in my teenage years. When it came time to choose a field of study, I initially considered fashion design but was intrigued by the broader textile program at Stenebyskolan in Dalsland, Sweden. This program exposed me to various techniques, including weaving, which captivated me. Despite some uncertainty, I pursued a textile design bachelor's degree, exploring weaving, printing, and knitting. Over time, I found myself gravitating towards traditional methods and the slower, more hands-on approach. My passion for weaving solidified during my degree work, where I experimented with upcycling materials and explored the artistry of hand weaving.

COMA: Your journey seems to have evolved towards traditional methods. How do you balance preserving these techniques while also incorporating innovation into your work?

Ellen: It's a delicate balance. While innovation is important, I'm drawn to the rich history and craftsmanship of traditional techniques. Weaving, for instance, has deep roots in human history, and I find value in honoring and preserving these ancient methods. However, I also strive to infuse my work with a contemporary twist, drawing inspiration from various sources, including medieval tapestries and portraiture.

COMA: Your recent focus on portraiture is intriguing. Can you tell us more about your creative process when approaching a new piece?

Ellen: Lately, I've been exploring tapestries that convey vivid images, a departure from my previous abstract work. This shift was prompted by a personal challenge to explore storytelling through art, inspired by my childhood experiences. One of my recent pieces depicts myself as a child, navigating the complexities of divorced parents. This exploration of portraiture allows me to delve into universal themes while incorporating my unique perspective.

COMA: As both an artist and an educator, how do these roles intersect and enrich your artistic practice?

Ellen: Teaching has been a source of inspiration for me. Whether working with children at Skansen or teaching evening classes in hand weaving, witnessing others' creativity fuels my own. Teaching encourages me to push boundaries and explore new ideas while also honing my technical skills. It's a symbiotic relationship that invigorates my artistic journey.

COMA: Looking ahead, what can we expect from you in the coming year?

Ellen: I'm thrilled to exhibit an embroidery piece at the Husby Konstsalong in Stockholm this 27 April  to 4 May, offering a glimpse into my artistic vision. Additionally, at Skansen I am working with public workshops in textile handicrafts (amongst other things). While I have many ideas brewing, each project requires careful consideration and dedication due to the time-intensive nature of textile art. Whether delving into personal narratives or historical themes, my goal remains to weave compelling stories through my art.

COMA: Thank you for sharing your insights, Ellen. We look forward to witnessing your artistic journey unfold.

April, 2024 - COMA Editorial team