TERESA ROCHE ART & TEXTILES
In the Shadows of the Textile Mill
The fabrications of Teresa Roche are rooted in the mill villages of South Carolina.
Teresa Roche gathered scraps from deteriorating textile mills for nearly two decades. “Massive buildings that had always been in my life were suddenly abandoned,” she says.
She took a camera with her to the empty mills, photographing the structures as they perished. Rolls of thread and bolts of fabric stood, as if a workday had just ended, but the artifacts of the bygone era were fading, stained and moldering. “I wanted to focus on the dirt and the softness, the wonder of where they’d been.”
Roche’s parents were employed by the Piedmont Number One Cotton Mill, part of the JP Stevens Corporation, in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Her father played in the storied textile baseball league and few memories occurred outside the shadows of the cotton mill. The plants began closing when Roche was a late teen and the place she knew of as “The Textile Capital of the World” systematically ended.
She majored in dance and later opened a gallery in a mill village, the neighborhood today is the trendy Village of West Greenville. “I wanted to be back in that familiar territory and In something that needed to be revitalized,” she recalls. Today her gallery, Art & Light, represents over 30 artists based in the Carolinas and hosts 18-20 shows a year.
Art in Design
As a painter, Teresa Roche is widely collected for depicting a sun-drenched south, linens blowing on backyard lines and kite-shaped abstracts built in mixed media; works that pair naturally with interiors yet display the type of depth collectors of southern imagery seek out.
Her artwork is represented in Greenville, Charleston and Charlotte, but printed fabrication continued to allude her. It was the photos of the silent workrooms that drew her back, tapping her love for the mundane, the rust and scratches left behind from manual labor and age.
“That’s the character,” Roche says. “It shows it has history. Whatever it was new, it’s since been torn down. It’s become all those things together and I could shed a modern, contemporary light on that character.”
Abandoning software intended to maintain a 12-inch repeating print, Roche began painting her fabric patterns and continues to create designs solely from original works of art. Roche pushed the limits of fabrications offering large, conceptual imagery rarely offered in contemporary textiles. Patterns are produced on 100% linen, a shapeshifter on pillows, upholstery, and curtains. Large brushstrokes and abstracted flowers and greenery are featured in her stunning wallpaper, giving the appearance of an actual painted wall to each space they occupy.
“I think creativity can be undervalued because it is uncertain,” says Roche. “Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing, but I search for what I want to find out, what to make of it, from my mind and in my heart.”