An interview of Neda Al-Hilali conducted 2006 July 18-19, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist's home, in Los Angeles, California.
Al-Hilali speaks of her childhood in Czechoslovakia and Bavaria; studying language in London; her experience living in Baghdad, Iraq with her first husband; moving to California and completing her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UCLA; teaching experiences at Scripps College, Claremont Graduate University, California State University Los Angeles, and UCLA; the installation processes of Beach Occurrence with Tongues, Black Passage, the Cassiopeia series, and others; frustrations she encountered with commission work; the rich history of the fiber tradition; travels to Afghanistan, Japan, and Oaxaca, Mexico; achieving gestural and painterly qualities with fiber; the importance of color in textile work in the Middle East; experiences with galleries, including the Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery in Santa Monica, California; utilizing a Ouija board for reflection and creative guidance; issues such as global warming and over-development; the status of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule; the gratitude she feels at being a part of the fiber tradition; and plans for the future. Al-Hilali also recalls Bernard Kester, Jim Bassler, Fern Jacobs, Joyce Hunsaker, Alice Simsar, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Neda Al-Hilali (1938- ) is a fiber artist and weaver in Los Angeles, California. Mija Riedel (1958- ) is a curator and writer in San Francisco, California.
Originally recorded on 4 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 22 digital wav files. Duration is 7 hr., 46 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.