Alexandra Kehayoglou is a visual artist weaving a deeper message; her rugs are an outcry against deforestation and devastation, calling for environmental awareness.
What originally made you want to become a rug artist?
The weaving tradition has always been around me so I just started putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I first began using available material from my family’s carpet industry because it made sense. I also realized that some information has been passed on from generation to generation in my family. Seventy years ago, my Greek family brought the tradition of designing and producing carpets to Argentina. I realized that my work is a combination of the traditional weaving with my vision as an artist.
What led you to start weaving landscapes?
I grew up in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, a city built on a huge grassland. I started wondering about the pristine state of this landscape before the advance of capitalism. In a way, Argentina’s pampas region is taken for granted. We have a static imagery of it: the cow, the soy, the whole agricultural structure. I think that this schema has replaced the essence of our relationship with our land. My work intends to close this distance.
What are you currently interested in and how does it feed into your creative thinking?
Lately, I’ve been drawn to speak about critical situations around endangered landscapes. I intend to immortalize them in the textiles I make. My latest work with the Río Santa Cruz consists in fieldwork and analysis of the planned disappearance riverbed of the Santa Cruz River, one of the last unexploited glacial rivers in the Patagonia that connects the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. My team and I will go down this river in a kayak expedition.
The project consists in documenting the landscape of the Santa Cruz River, and the creation of a rug piece that immortalizes this disappearing patch of riverbed and its surroundings. I believe that art can speak about these topics on another level. It’s not just about registering the topography; what moves me to keep on going is the possibility of offering a different perspective.
As an environmental advocate, what changes have you made in your lifestyle to ‘practice what you preach’?
Once you realize that how we live and the way we consume is imposed from the outside and that there is no need to consume so much of everything, you start choosing how to do things. I try to change my daily behavior. For instance, I no longer shop in supermarkets and buy products that come in non-recyclable packages. This has led me to choose healthier groceries and to make my own products related to hygiene and beauty. It’s a constant work in progress.
Do you ever think about giving up? What helps you move forward?
Sometimes, when my body hurts or suffers, or when the system challenges you to follow a way of doing things. I often get bored of many things, but my work is something that I need to do. The basis of my work is love and also the freedom to choose and this is something that I am increasingly training; working on projects according to my own set of values gives me peace.