Limiting our environmental impact is one of Submaterial’s deepest-held values. It drives our decision to work exclusively with natural, sustainable, and renewable materials. We care about the sustainable creation of these materials before they arrive in our New Mexico studio. Equally important to us is the reuse and recycling of the scraps we create in our manufacturing process. For years we have donated materials to local arts and education organizations. We have also provided materials to local artists and artisans. This is the story of the evolution of one artist’s relationship with Submaterial and the beautiful creations that have resulted.
Moth, Molly Zimmer
Molly Zimmer is an Albuquerque multimedia artist and textile restorer of Diné weavings. While she was taught felting and other fiber crafts as a child, her higher education focused on painting. Her early practice focused on en plein air oil landscapes. And her paintings were often highly dimensional. Molly circled back to textile and fiber works when she began working as a restorer of Diné weavings, and her textile work included that same dimensionality. Molly came to know Submaterial through connections with her fellow graduate students who worked at Submaterial and began using some of our scraps felt in her practice. Submaterial felt is only one of many textiles Molly employs. She also uses discontinued fabrics, painting, and natural dyeing the materials to make them her own.
Molly’s practice can only be described as biophilia, the innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings. Hollyhock, zinnias, and irises bloom from the materials in colorful and tactile foliage. Moths, butterflies, and grasshoppers spring fully formed from various materials.
In the fall of 2021, Molly and Submaterial began a new chapter in our relationship. Molly brought to Submaterial the beautiful vase seen above and creative director David was delighted by it. He believed that her work would be an excellent addition to Submaterial’s spring offerings to residential interior designers, a community we are actively cultivating in 2022 and beyond. This new collaboration has meant that Molly works in our studio one day a week with access to an industrial sewing machine and a more extensive selection of offcut colors. Conversations with staff have yielded a focus on creating vase-shaped sculptures, some meant solely as art pieces and others that have glass inserts to allow for practical use. Each felt vessel is made by creating hand-drawn paper patterns, which are then cut out of the felt, and then machine and hand-stitched together. Created in pairs and trios of motifs or sizes, the collection is richly varied.
Molly knew that her works would be included in the relaunch of our shop during the spring and the shapes and motifs reflect that season. They highlight transformation, not only the transformation of the rolls of felt into our products and resulting offcuts into works of biophilic art but also the transformations of a garden in the spring—the growth of stems, the emergence of monarch butterflies, and the unfurling of leaves. Much as gardens are a place for rest, rejuvenation, and sanctuary, these works bring that same calming spirit into residential spaces.