Art at Cobble Hill: Taryn Urushido

Oct 25, 2019

We’re delighted to welcome Brooklyn artist Taryn Urushido to the walls of our Cobble Hill cafe. Urushido’s solo exhibition, Earth and Sky Talk, is on view from October 26th through January 10th. Urushido takes over our banquet room from the current artist and our new curator, Heather Keton.

Taryn's aesthetic is heavily influenced by both the Arizona desert landscape of her childhood and natural materials, dyes, and organic processes. As each textile is crafted, it becomes balanced and naturally reminiscent of the two worlds, creating a harmonious, wabi-sabi style. Crochet was first introduced to Taryn at age 7, mentored by a 70-year-old crochet and craft artist at the after-school daycare. First learning granny squares made of scrap yarns, Taryn quickly became interested in different materials, shapes and forms. The initial inspiration is present in each piece, but has fluidly evolved into a one-of-a kind, organic art form with undefinable texture and depth. Materials are hand cut and ripped to reveal the beauty of the raw exposed “modernized yarns”.

There will be an opening reception with refreshments on Saturday, October 26th from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at our cafe at 212 Pacific Street in Brooklyn.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: What was it like growing up in the desert and how did you transition from that lifestyle to living in New York?

Taryn Urushido: Exploring non-stop! My parents loved taking my sister and I all over Arizona from the time we were really young...The state is really big, filled with forests, mountains, canyons and valleys, hot and cold springs, rivers, waterfalls and desert...My memories are flooded with the smell of the desert when it rains, searching for rocks, keeping a look out for rattlesnakes and scorpions during hikes, my Dad's endless knowledge of desert plants and wildlife, the expanded night sky outside of the city lights -- off- roading! -- layers and layers and layers of history in red rocks, sunrises and sunsets.... Arizona is a relaxing, resort-like life.

I started college in Arizona and switched my major from art therapy to fashion. In 2005 I moved to New York to attend the Accessories Design program at FIT. The transition to living in New York was the same excitement to explore and learn. I loved the college life of creating, making, and I wanted to learn everything in the workplace. I got to work at some exciting, fast-paced brands. I expanded my knowledge and grew as a designer while guided by some of the most experienced creatives, traveling to factories in various countries, and building relationships with craftspeople. My favorite part was being able to physically use my hands each step of the way through hand sketching and prototyping.

Today, it's full circle; being able to create art using my first learned craft of crochet while I evolve my technique and application, and weaving natural elements into the overall theme. I constantly gain new ideas while meeting artisans and makers.

SCR: Tell us a little bit about your mentor and how you started working with different techniques?

TU: When I was 7 years old, I met Mary Scopa, 70 years, at an after-school program. Mary sat at the craft table every day crocheting and I was very interested in learning. She gave me mixed acrylic scrap yarns and I made a "pot holder" -- which I still have today, along with most of my other first projects I've crocheted. Making objects was fascinating… bags, hats and then to finger gloves. In high school I really loved playing with 3D forms by crocheting really wavy flowers. It wasn't until college that I took muslin fabric to rip into frayed ribbons to use as my "yarn". This is where I tested different weights of materials and playing around with different hooks or without any at all. I began using rope and cording only a couple years ago, as they were not in my material world until I began making baskets, which led to my daughter's baby bassinet.

SCR: You hand dye a lot of the materials that you work with. Can you explain that process and why, er, you choose not to wear gloves when doing so?

TU: I have just recently become more confident in natural dyeing, since meeting and taking classes from Maki Teshima, a New York City natural dye artist.

Depending on the dye, such as indigo, being able to feel each fiber is a real connection in the dyeing process to me -- so I choose not to wear gloves. I like to dye my ropes and cording of all sizes because it adds a different feel to the material and I relate to the soft, sun-kissed colors.

SCR: What are your daily creative rituals?

TU: I walk to the studio from my apartment, coffee in hand. This 20 minutes gives me time and space to clear my head of what I need to work on and prioritize. Most of my work is concepted, not sketched or predetermined to detail. I like to push myself to explore even if I’m not sure about the beginning stage -- because it’s all new and organic. I’m working with the materials, mostly experimenting with shape and form until there is a balanced flow working together. When something works, it feels natural. My favorite shop for materials happens to be the hardware store. I love to browse the store to keep ideas fresh and building for next projects, or begin making samples of techniques. When I arrive the studio, I usually need to prepare washing materials for dyeing, which is a lengthy process of a few days. If I am dyeing, that is an all day process, depending on how much material there is. If I am working on a large piece, I usually break it up over days and sometimes weeks. Sometimes stepping away can bring me back to the next stage even stronger and with new eyes for detail, and finishing touches become more apparent.

SCR: You mention a few times how using your hands is important in your creative process. Any other inspiration that you draw from?

TU: Working with your hands, yes! feeling the materials is so important, even the use of tools is so powerful! I really love my heavy duty wire cutter at the moment. Taking apart or breaking down materials is a big part of my process as well. With woven materials, I love to rip strips of frayed ribbons which expose the inner threads from the warp and weft. Untwisting ropes or jute creates a funny offspring. Wetting, washing or dyeing these deconstructed materials softens them, and all of a sudden, they become relatable.

SCR: What's your affinity to coffee and how did you learn about Stumptown?

TU: I drink coffee daily! Stumptown is our favorite spot to sit down for coffee and enjoy the beautiful space, people watch, eat our favorite pastries, and for my daughter to socialize with the friendliest staff (hi Valerie and Amanda!) -- and of course she loves all the dogs that come by! It is a fun part of our day where we can go enjoy the best coffee in our neighborhood and really feel the community connect.

SCR: Where can folks sign up for one of your workshops? Can you tell us a little bit of what you teach?

TU: This is a two-part answer that I'm excited to share! All workshops are listed at I'm working on all new workshops that will capture the same feel as my new fiber art...and I'm collaborating on more workshops with natural dye artist Maki Teshima so stay tuned!

When I teach workshops, I keep in the back of my mind the idea that art is for everyone and should be approachable -- I create a concept, I teach the initial technique or idea but not by the book. Once everyone has grasped the overall technique and gained momentum, each student naturally begins to design their own shapes, patterns, new combinations of materials… No two pieces are alike and we all learn something new. I simply guide from there on.