Op Art


A strong interest in optical illusion surfaced in painting and popular culture in the mid- to late-1960s. The movement is perhaps best known in art circles through the works of Bridget Riley (born 1931) and Victor Vasarely (1906–1997), who manipulated the lines and geometric forms of grids to create a visual effect of movement and to alter the viewer’s sense of depth and space.

Files kept by Laurie Herrick reveal how quickly weavers engaged this use of pattern through contemporary weaving. Expanding on an initial approach outlined by California weaver Polly Yori in a 1968 weaving guild newsletter and workshop, Herrick spent the next several decades experimenting with multi-hued “Op” Art weavings. To create these patterns, Herrick adapted a traditional weaving structure known as overshot, in which decorative supplementary or extra weft threads float over the ground cloth. By creating “spots” of graduated size and various colors, she created optically-illusive patterns through weaving. In other words, removal of the colored threads that form the “dots” leaves a basic plain weave structure; the optical illusion is created by moving the weft (horizontal) threads in and out of the ground cloth. By manipulating the placement and length of these supplementary threads, Herrick moved from simple to increasingly complex optical patterns through her weavings.

Herrick Special Features ...

Op Art
Open Warp
Laurie Coat
Summer and Winter on Opposites
Summer and Winter Straight
Summer and Winter Polychrome

Return to the Laurie Herrick exhibition page to download writings, exhibition checklist and research documents.