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My Nets Have Come Fast Upon an Obstruction by Peter Chao

by Peter Chao

In Nautical Signals, Peter Chao examines maritime signal flags as a mode of communication and connects his fiber art work to maritime history. Growing up learning multiple languages, Chao is interested in how language is expressed and the visual forms it assumes.

Drawn to these signals by their graphic shapes and strong colors, Chao is equally fascinated by the unique and complex communication system they represent. Used by sailors for centuries, each signal has a specific meaning– often telling in a single image an entire story about the status, activity, or needs of the vessel. And in combination, they can convey complex messages and instructions, such as weather warnings, navigational guidance, and distress signals. Their ability to express so much information through each image recalls the Chinese characters Peter learned in his childhood.

Through weaving and a modified process of punch needle–a traditional rug hooking technique–Chao reinterprets these signals. He creates vivid images by simplifying the signals into two colors, adding a handmade texture that evokes the spirit of the sea. The work invites you to contemplate the history of communication and feel a sense of adventure through visual forms. Chao imagines the collector choosing a particular work as their personal mantra– expressing moods ranging from “Communicate With Me” to “Reverse Course.”

14” x 10” 

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