With their complex color and patterns, woven scarves from Randall Darwall’s Bass River, MA studio are known for their ability to partner with almost any piece of clothing. “Why use five colors when fifty will do nicely?” asks the artist.
Early in his career, Randall tried painting, but became frustrated. “When I mixed color on my palette I usually ended up with mud because I never knew when to stop. (Weaving) has all the internal logic and order that I lacked,” he explains. Randall personally dyes his fibers and strings the warps on the loom, often collaborating with a trusted assistant, who adds the weft in response. “I design as I weave, struggling to keep up my own end of the conversation with colors, fibers and the constantly chiding voice of function,” he says. Randall uses fine silk that is often combined with other natural fibers for texture and drape. The scarves are tightly woven to withstand wear over time, although they are intended to soften with use.
The artist earned a degree in art history from Harvard before completing a masters’ in art education at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s. He was a faculty member at the Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts and has since taught at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee. For the last 30 years he has maintained a small, thriving studio, producing much sought-after wearable art. His partner, Brian Murphy, is a garment designer, who turns Randall’s beautiful cloth into striking vests, jackets and other ensembles.
Randall’s work is represented in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, New York City’s Museum of Art & Design, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.