LA-based textile artist Mia Weiner has developed a distinctive approach to textile art by blending digital and traditional techniques. Her recent award, the V&A Parasol Foundation Prize for Women in Photography, highlights the innovative nature of her work. 

Weiner’s artistic process begins with staging and photographing models, often including herself, which she then digitally alters before mapping out and hand-weaving each piece on a loom. This method results in tapestries that are not just visually remarkable but also rich in narrative and texture, reflecting themes of identity, gender, and intimacy.

Weiner’s works are deeply rooted in historical textile traditions while pushing the boundaries of contemporary discourse. Her pieces often intertwine mythological references with modern perspectives on femininity and power, inviting viewers to engage with and question societal norms. At this year’s “Future Fair,” Weiner’s booth showcased her ability to transform digital glitches and stripes into woven records of her hand, infusing each piece with personal significance. In this interview, Weiner shares her inspirations, favorite artists at “Future Fair,” and upcoming projects, offering a glimpse into the mind of an artist who seamlessly blends the past and present.

Condessa for G, Mia Weiner
Condessa for G
Mia Weiner, 2022.
Handwoven acrylic, cotton,
silk, paper, and wool.
84 × 82 in.
Courtesy of the artist and
Mama Projects, New York, NY
The Bathers, Mia Weiner
The Bathers
Mia Weiner, 2023.
Handwoven acrylic, cotton,
silk, wool, and tinsel.
78 × 129 in.
Courtesy of the artist
and Mama Projects, NY.

First off, congrats on winning the V&A Parasol Foundation Prize for Women in Photography earlier in May! It’s been a few weeks, but tell us a little about your work, which we could see at MAMA’s “Future Fair” booth this year.

Mia Weiner: Thank you so much! I am really thrilled to have received the award from the Victoria & Albert Museum and Parasol Foundation. Photography is such an important part of my process, and for my weavings to be included in that dialogue is really an honor. 

Glitches and stripes begin to emerge in the works, a nod to the digital image and screen, but also a record of my hand and a place for my queerness and identity to seep into the cloth.

When I am ready to start a new series, I begin by staging models (often friends and partners) alongside my own body and taking photographs. Next, I edit and digitally alter these images, adding or removing information, shifting contrast and visibility, and manually map out the different woven structures I use to build the composition in cloth. As I move to the loom and hand weave each work, each pixel becomes a crossing of tensioned thread.

Naiads, Mia Weiner
Naiads
Mia Weiner, 2024.
Handwoven cotton, acrylic,
silk, wool, and paper.
39 1/2 × 42 in.
(30 1/2 × 22 in. without fringe).
The trees remind me of your softness, Mia Weiner
The trees remind me of your softness
Mia Weiner, 2024.
Handwoven cotton, acrylic and silk,
dye, crystal, and 14k gold pendants.
35 × 23 1/4 in.
(21 1/2 × 23 1/4 in. without fringe).
The trees remind me of your softness (detail), Mia Weiner
The trees remind me of your softness
(detail)

Glitches and stripes begin to emerge in the works, a nod to the digital image and screen, but also a record of my hand and a place for my queerness and identity to seep into the cloth. While there is so much prep before I begin to weave, it is really once I am at the loom that the works begin to come alive for me. 

My work is all about intimacy, ways of looking, and how the body has been depicted throughout art history. I am interested in creating new narratives filled with power, softness, agency, and inquiry. Intertwining mythology with contemporary discourse on gender and femininity, these works invite us to question and reimagine the society in which we live.

When stitching, you are piercing the surface to create the image, and I was really excited that through weaving, the image and the structure of the cloth are one and the same. The bodies of the figures are the literal body of the cloth. It was a huge shift for me and how I think about constructing images.

What was your favorite booth to visit, or who was your favorite artist this year at FF, and why?

Mia Weiner: There was so much amazing work! Red Arrow and Wishbone Gallery definitely had two of my favorite booths this year. It was such a sweet surprise to be next door to Liv Aanrud’s work, a fellow LA artist, at “Future Fair”—I absolutely love her work. Also, Becca Lowry’s pieces, presented by Elijah Wheat, stole my heart in a major way. 

Portrait of Mia Weiner
Portrait of Mia Weiner.
Courtesy of the artist.
Mia Weiner’s studio.
Mia Weiner’s studio and loom.
Courtesy of the artist.

You started weaving during grad school. Was there a particular influence that led you to choose this medium?

Mia Weiner: I have always been excited by textiles and the way the material feels in my hand while working. So much of the work deals with topics of intimacy, gender, and labor, and what is more intimate than the textile?

Before I learned to weave, my practice was based on embroidery, creating large drawings with thread. When I was applying to grad schools, I chose my program in part because of a particular loom they had, even though I hadn’t really ever woven before. When stitching, you are piercing the surface to create the image, and I was really excited that through weaving, the image and the structure of the cloth are one and the same. The bodies of the figures are the literal body of the cloth. It was a huge shift for me and how I think about constructing images. 

I think about materials in two different ways—how they will weave and how they hold energy. It has taken me a long time to find the perfect weight of yarn that will give me enough detail as I weave while also not becoming so rendered that the tapestry no longer feels like cloth.

You said you don’t play favorites, but can you share some of the ancient or contemporary artists who have an influence on your work?

Mia Weiner: One of my largest pieces at the fair, “Caryatid,” is titled after the caryatids at the Parthenon in Greece but also is a nod to one of my favorite Gregory Corso poems. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about Meleko Mogossi and how his work expands past the constraints of his canvas. I love looking at ancient art, I love looking at what everyone is making right now, and pretty much everything in between.

Caryatid, Mia Weiner
Caryatid
Mia Weiner, 2022.
Handwoven acrylic and
cotton yarn.
83.5 x 46 in.
(60 x 44 in. without fringe).
Caryatid (detail), Mia Weiner
Caryatid
(detail)

Can you share some details that go into sourcing the right materials that work best for you and why?

Mia Weiner: I think about materials in two different ways—how they will weave and how they hold energy. It has taken me a long time to find the perfect weight of yarn that will give me enough detail as I weave while also not becoming so rendered that the tapestry no longer feels like cloth. I love silk, wool, and cotton—some works have crystals and charms added as well, or strips of mylar and other unexpected materials. I collect these in my studio, and then the weaving seems to choose them for me through meditation, and I am always surprised where they end up.

What’s the next project you’re working on?

Mia Weiner: In a couple of weeks, I am heading to a residency at Yaddo, where I plan to work on some non-loom-based experimental drawings and sculptures. I have been thinking about this work for about a year, and I feel so lucky that I have the time and space to jump in. I really can’t wait. Immediately after the residency, I am very excited to head back to Europe for a solo presentation with Homecoming Gallery at Unseen alongside an installation at their gallery in Amsterdam. 

Installation photo of MAMA Projects at Future Fair 2024
Installation photo of MAMA Projects
at Future Fair 2024
Photo credit: Adam Reich.