As a writer, singer, performer, and textile artist, Levon Kafafian is a self-described interdisciplinary practitioner but primarily works in the space of textile on a day-to-day basis. Aside from having worked in textiles for nine years, Levon writes lyrics, poetry, performs and works in art direction. Levon is also in the process of creating a long-form graphic novel in collaboration with a graphic artist. From there, they plan to bring that vision to life through costumes, objects, spaces, and experiences.
They show us as a tin box with beautiful silk threads from their grandmother, who was an embroiderer who was talented in needlework, beading, lacework, and much more.
Levon has a BFA in Crafts: Fibers from the College for Creative Studies and a BA in Anthropology from Wayne State University. Primarily working in artistic cultural and social production, Levon’s work often manifests in a variety of ways: as panels, workshops, exhibition, social experiences and much more.
Woven thread lends itself to these ideas because cloth is continually being interspersed between other materials, as perpendicular elements working against and with each other simultaneously. Levon describes it as “the in-between and the intersection”—the threshold. Levon moves within this space; identifying the intersections of identity, culture, nature, and place.
Much of the work revolves around cycles of growth development, interlinked with the magical, inherited, and hybrid. Essentially, “moving beyond the thread.” Along with Ash Arder, Levon operates the Fringe Society, an arts collective (https://www.fringesocietystudio.com/) that creates interdisciplinary, experimental, futuristic and hybrid works. They create experiences such as “The Stitching Hour”—transforming Detroit’s Historic Avenue of Fashion with movement, sound and light.
The Stitching Hour, Detroit 2018
Levon reads coffee grounds, too—another element of the collaborative storytelling process. For example, in the “Reading Coffee, Writing the Future,” Levon guides participants through the process of fortune-reading from coffee grounds, moving through writing exercise that prompt personal reflection on the future, inspired by imagery found in the grounds.
Levon’s fabric drawers contain mostly materials from Arts and Scraps as well as their grandmother’s work. Levon once donated a bolt of fabric to Arts and Scraps, and later on hung out with a friend and saw the bolt again in the friend’s car. Levon occasionally buys materials for projects then donates the leftover materials (usually fabric) back to the Arts and Scraps community store, describing this material sharing as “holding it for the right person.”
Continuing to navigate the space between elements—studying where culture, identity, nature, and space intersect. Levon plans on continuing to explore this interdisciplinary space and within the Arts and Scraps community to find the pieces and materials to fill this transitory space.
You can take a look at Levon’s work at levonkafafian.com