Over the course of a month, Jen Bervin made a large weaving directly onto Gridspace’s iron fence in Brooklyn.
The fence was treated like a very simple loom: the warp and the weft threads circled the public and private side of the fence in the rapidly changing neighborhood of Crown Heights. The presence of textile-based slow time and the human interactions surrounding it were the real locus of the work.
Bervin’s uniform, white coveralls with the word “WEAVER” embroidered across the back, was a nod to a photograph of Anni Albers in white coveralls at Black Mountain College. The structure of the coveralls fabric, a 4/1 warp-faced twill, was the basis for the weave structure on the fence.
Neighbors and passersby—many originally from the West Indies—checked on the weaving regularly, asked questions, and offered advice. When she was doing well, Bervin got “good job” a lot; when she was messing up, “good luck.” A teenage boy stopped to say he thought it was beautiful. One woman said it gave her an idea and rushed off.
Once, when she had an impressive tangle of weft and was trying to sort out how to fix a mistake she’d made twenty feet previous, an older gentleman stopped and asked if she needed help. She said she was trying to solve a problem—and he paused, reflecting, “All by yourself?” Then added wisely, “Find a way to keep going.”