Ruth Tabancay has been fascinated with the concept of magnification since she studied microbiology in college. As an artist, she transposes that curiosity to textiles. For The Structure of Cloth 1.1, she photographed dozens of commercial fabrics with an electron microscope at University of California, Berkeley. In daily usage, fabric construction is rarely considered, but when magnified hundreds of times, the architectural structure of different types of cloth is obvious and distinct. Some of those micrographs were used to create weavings with the computerized Jacquard loom during the Lia Cook Jacquard Residency at California College of the Arts in October, 2016. The weavings are a result of a variety of technological processes-from the manufactured textile itself to the scanning electron microscope to manipulation of that image in Photoshop to hand weaving on the computerized Jacquard loom. To leave her own mark on these predominantly machine-made weavings, she hand-embroidered each one with stitches that relate to that particular weave structure or are inspired by imagery from microbiology. Also included in the exhibition are the actual fabrics, scanning electron micrographs and arm-knit wool roving.
RUTH TABANCAY’S passion for science led her to study microbiology in college and after a stint as a hospital laboratory technologist, she went on to medical school. After 11 years in private practice, she left medicine to study art. She is graduate of the University of California, Berkeley; University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco; and California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited regionally at the Museum of Craft and Design, Southern Exposure, Bedford Gallery, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and in venues nation-wide. A member of Mercury 20 since 2012, she is the Northern California Representative for the Surface Design Association and on the Board of Directors for Pacific Rim Sculptors Group.