I make rya rugs. Using sewing and tufting, I create rhythms, compositions, everlasting parties and psychedelic troll pelts. My work is a melange of handicraft traditions, pop culture, hobby glamour and recycled materials.
Ordinary women unknown to art history weaved their emotions and memories into ryas. Bridal ryas in the 18th century often included ancient magical symbols next to Christian ones: looped squares, Turk’s heads and four-leaf clovers, which protected the owner of the rya from evil spirits and bad luck. Textiles have always contained mythologies expressed in motifs and patterns, told through universal symbols shared across cultures. The looped square is found in Egyptian textiles from the fourth century and in the old days was used to protect cattle against witches in Sweden, but today it is perhaps best known as the symbol on the command key on Apple computers.
The motifs in my ryas stem from my aesthetic awakening in my early teens. The imagery evolved as I made drawings with highlighter pens and stickers and became a fan of pop culture. We would write “ACID” in capitals in our friendship books and draw a yellow neon smiley face next to it.
Jonna Karanka (b. 1978) is a visual artist and musician. She is also a member of the Sorbus collective.