Exhibition Updates – Venice, DC, LA, and Yorkshire

We’ve got updates — and images — from exhibitions that include browngrotta artists and friends. 

Toshiko Takaezu and Ruth Asawa at the Venice Biennial
Venice Biennial – Toshiko Takaezu and Ruth Asawa at the Venice Biennial. Photos courtesy Darlene Fukuji, Victor Wang, Carla Romeo, and Donald Fletcher.

Toshiko Takaezu has received pride of place at the Venice Biennial in Italy. Eight of Takaezu’s works are featured in a gallery space that she shares with an dramatic selection of works by Ruth Asawa. Asawa is one of a group fiber artists (Ruth Asawa, Sonya Delaunay, Mrinalini Mukherjee and Rosemary Trockel) included in the Biennial this year. 

La Biennale di Venezia
59th International Art Exhibition
The Milk of Dreams
through November 27, 2022
BUY YOUR TICKETS

works by Toshiko Takaezu; portrait of Toshiko Takaezu by Tom Grotta
Works by Toshiko Takaezu; portrait of Toshiko Takaezu by Tom Grotta at This Present Moment, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Photo by Ted Rowland.

Takaezu’s work is also highlighted in a gallery space in This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, aside a large portrait taken by Tom Grotta. Also well displayed in This Present Moment are works by Christine Joy, Polly Sutton and Joanne Segal Brandford. You can learn more about this ambitious exhibition in this brief video: https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/this-present-moment.

Works by Joanne Segal Brandford, Christine Joy and Polly Sutton
Works by Joanne Segal Brandford, Christine Joy and Polly Sutton. Photo by Mary Savig, Curator, This Present Moment, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World 
Renwick Gallery
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Ferne Jacobs: Installation
Installation Photo of Building the Essentials: Ferne Jacobs. Photo: Madison Metro, Craft in America

Building the Essentials: Ferne Jacobs at the Craft in America Gallery Los Angeles, California is a long-overdue retrospective for the California artist. Throughout her 50-year career, Jacobs has revolutionized the fiber arts and pushed the boundaries of sculpture, while exploring expressions of gender through her artworks. Learn more about this remarkable exhibition in Christopher Knight’s insightful review from the Los Angeles Times: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2022-05-11/review-backlog-pandemic-postponed-art-shows?_amp=true. You still have until June 18th to see the exhibition. Can’t get there in person? The website has numerous images and videos.

Building the Essentials: Ferne Jacobs
Craft in America Gallery
8415 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Garnering deserved international attention — The Guardian, W, Wallpaper, The New York Times, Aesthetica — as “ravishing,” “delicious,” a “thrill of color” is Sheila Hicks‘ exhibition Off Grid in the UK. In progress for two years, she first visited the museum in person this spring before the opening. “It was fascinating to watch her enter the space, mapping and reading it in ways that I hadn’t seen other artists do, looking at the light sources, thinking of the angles,” the museum’s chief curator Andrew Bonacina told Wallpaper (“Riotous color, terrific textiles: Sheila Hicks: ‘Off Grid’ at The Hepworth Wakefield,” Jessica Klingelfuss, Wallpaper, April 9, 2022). “Across the exhibition, you’ll see an artist who has really explored the endless possibilities of fibre and thread as a sculptural material.” The exhibition features work that expands her 70-year career and includes photographs from her many travels. The museum is an ideal venue for such an ambitious display. ““I think it’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever shown in,” Hicks told inews.co.uk. If the UK is not in your travel plans, visit the museum’s site to view additional images: https://hepworthwakefield.org/whats-on/sheila-hicks/.

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid
Installation of Sheila Hicks: Off Grid at The Hepworth Wakefield, 2022. Art works L-R: Peace Barrier, 2018; Ripe Rip, 2019; Nowhere To Go, 2022. Photo: Tom Bird / Courtesy: The Hepworth Wakefield

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid
through September 25, 2022
The Hepworth Wakefield
Gallery Walk
Wakefield
West Yorkshire
WF1 5AW
01924 247360

hello@hepworthwakefield.org


Scenes from an Exhibition: Crowdsourcing the Collective this Week

Photo by Juan Pabon/Ezco Production

Despite some Covid cancellations, we’re enjoying good attendance to our Spring Art in the Barn exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective; a survey of textile and mixed media art this week. We had visitors in line on Sunday morning. We have had artists stop by, including Dawn MacNutt, Norma Minkowitz, Wendy Wahl, Nancy Koenigsberg, Jeannet Lennderste and Kari Lønning. We are hoping to see Blair Tate and Christine Joy later in the week.

We’ve had visits from groups from the Wilton Encore Club and Westport MoCA and a curator from the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Public Library. We are expecting more curators yet this week. 

The inspiration for the works in Crowdsourcing is of great interest to those attending. Lia Cook’s tapestries incorporate images of ferns from her California garden. Blair Tate experiments in visual layering based on frescoes interrupted by superimposed paintings and incised niches that she saw throughout Bologna. She rearranged separately woven strips to create windows on the wall — intentionally splintered, fragmented, unsettled as a reflection of our times. Dawn MacNutt’s works of seagrass and copper wire, The Last One Standing and Interconnected, are the last two works remaining from her earlier series, Kindred Spirits.

Dawn MacNutt and Norma Minkowitz
Dawn MacNutt and Norma Minkowitz. Photo by Tom Grotta

There are five days remaining — hope you can join us.

Schedule Your Visit Here: 

Remainder of the exhibition
Thru – Saturday, May 14th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/hour)

Final Day
Sunday, May 15th: 11AM to 6PM (40 visitors/ hour)

Address
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897
(203)834-0623

Safety protocols
Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • We will follow current state and federal guidelines surrounding COVID-19 • As of March 1, 2022, masks are not required • We encourage you to wear a mask if your are not vaccinated or if you feel more comfortable doing so. • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

Art for a Cause: A portion of browngrotta arts’ profits for the months of May and June will benefit Sunflower of Peace, a non-profit group that provides medical and humanitarian aid for paramedics and doctors in areas that are affected by the violence in Ukraine. browngrotta arts will also match donations collected during the exhibition as part of browngrotta arts’ 2022 “Art for a Cause” initiative. A portion of the artists’ proceeds for certain works will also go to Sunflower of Peace: https://www.sunflowerofpeace.com/


Art Assembled: New This Week in April

Although launching our spring exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textiles and mixed media art, has kept us busy, we still had no shortage of new art to introduce you to in April. We presented art from many talented artists, including work from: Masako Yoshida, Ethel Stein, Polly Barton, and John McQueen. Just in case you missed out, we’re covering all the details about these artists and their art! Read on for more.

Masako Yoshida
14my Air Hole #838, Masako Yoshida, walnut and flax, 8″ x 8″ x 7″, 2017

This artwork comes from Japanese basketmaker, Masako Yoshida. Yoshida created this piece by interlacing sheets of walnut bark with string made of nettle. When asked about her work, Yoshida said:

“My work provides a means of release, allowing the truth to emerge and open the mind. In the process, I ask myself, ‘what is my connection to society?'”

Ethel Stein
56es Touch of Green, Ethel Stein, mercerized cotton, 31.5” x 36” x 1/4”, 2008. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Touch of Green comes from the late Ethel Stein, who was an exceptional American textile artist. Within her career, Stein created countless intricate textile pieces, and browngrotta arts has had the honor of representing her work for nearly 15 years.

Within Stein’s work, she has been known for using reproposed items that have been discarded as a medium and creating something miraculous with them. Often, her artwork is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity, although it’s created with extraordinary technical complexity.

Polly Barton
8pb Thistledown, Polly Barton, handwoven double ikat with Japanese silk warp and Japanese silk wrapped around a metal core, 41” x 31” x 1.125”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Thistledown was created by nationally recognized American fiber artist, Polly Barton. Trained in Japan, Barton is known for working with traditional methods of binding and dyeing bundles of fiber to weave contemporary imagery. More specifically, Barton is known for her talent in adapting the ancient weaving technique of ikat into contemporary woven imagery.

Barton has been charting the way for fiber art over the past 40 years. In fact, early in here career in 1981, Barton moved to Kameoka, Japan to study with master weaver, Tomohiko Inoue.

John McQueen
John McQueen, 32jm Out From Under, wood, willow, bark, and held together with tiny spikes of bamboo 20.75” x 25.25” x 16”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This artwork was created by American artist, John McQueen. Within his work, viewers can often find themes of prominent world associations. Often, his three-dimensional works are created with natural materials like twigs, bark, cardboard – he prides himself on being able to create with found objects.

McQueen has discussed how plastic and metal are ubiquitous in landfills and our own trash and he hopes to draw attention to this waste problem with his art, as we are burying ourselves in waste without seeing it.

If you like the art you see – keep your eye out for even more in May! You’ll even have the opportunity to see art in person at our spring exhibition launching this weekend. Visit: https://bit.ly/38QiXCe to join us.


Make a Day of It: Events Near browngrotta arts

Coming to Wilton, CT to see browngrotta arts’ next exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textiles and mixed media art (May 7 – 15)? We have three nearby exhibitions to recommend if you want to make a day of it.

1) Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski: Portal Pieces
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT 06877
Tel 203.438.4519
6.2 Miles

https://thealdrich.org/exhibitions/amaryllis-dejesus-moleski-portal-pieces

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski: Portal Pieces is the third installment of Aldrich Projects, a single artist series that features a singular work or a focused body of work by an artist every four months on the Museum’s campus. Sited in the Leir Atrium, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski presents two large-scale works on paper: Graduation Day, 2021, and The Guardians, 2015. These two works on paper are part of an ongoing mythology that spotlight marginalized histories and femme power. Invigorated by lived and imagined experience, DeJesus Moleski’s utopian storylines speak to struggle, redemption, repair, and reinvention.  Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski: Portal Pieces will be on view at The Aldrich January 6 to May 15, 2022.

2) Spectrum: Renewal 
Carriage Barn Arts Center
Waveny Park
681 South Avenue (Route 124)
New Canaan, CT 06840
8.6 miles

Spectrum is a juried exhibition of original, contemporary artwork by local and regional artists, and includes submissions in all media.  Guest juror, James Barron, a specialist in modern and contemporary American and European art, reviewed original works that speak to the theme of RENEWAL. 

Renewal is the driving force in life — an essential process in nature, relationships, well-being and spirituality.  The exhibit will take viewers on a visual journey, revealing how artists have experienced the challenges and upheavals of recent events, and expressions of renewal and hope for the future.  

Renewal will be on view from April 29th to May 22nd. The Carriage Barn will be open Wednesday through Saturday 10 am – 3 pm and Sundays 1 – 5 pm.

3) Adger Cowans: Sense and Sensibility
Fairfield University Art Museum, Bellarmine Hall Galleries
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Tel. (203) 254-4046
15 miles

https://www.fairfield.edu/museum/adgercowans/

Adger Cowans (American, b. 1936) is a celebrated photographer whose wide-ranging work includes the civil rights movement, jazz musicians, landscape, and artistic studies of the human form, water, and light. He is also one of the founding members of Kamoinge, a Black photographers collective whose mission is to ‘Honor, document, preserve and represent the history and culture of the African Diaspora with integrity and respect for humanity through the lens of Black Photographers.’

This exhibition, curated by Halima Taha, presents Cowans’s use of photography to articulate the beauty within the human condition and the world we live in with over fifty images from his illustrious career.

The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. The exhibit is up from January 28 – June 18, 2022.

We look forward to seeing you at Crowdsourcing the Collective at browngrotta arts in May. Save your space here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crowdsourcing-the-collective-a-survey-of-textiles-and-mixed-media-art-tickets-292520014237

Exhibition Dates/Hours

Opening & Artists Reception

Saturday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM (300 Visitor Cap)

Remainder of the exhibition

Sunday, May 8th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/hour)

Monday, May 9th – Saturday, May 14th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/hour)

Final Day

Sunday, May 15th: 11AM to 6PM (40 visitors/ hour)

Address

276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897

(203)834-0623

Safety protocols

Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • We will follow current state and federal guidelines surrounding COVID-19 • As of March 1, 2022, masks are not required • We encourage you to wear a mask if your are not vaccinated or if you feel more comfortable doing so • No narrow heels please (barn floors)


Artists New to Crowdsourcing the Collective: Meet Jeannet Leendertse and Shoko Fukuda

Baskets by Jeannet Leendertse and Shoko Fukuda
Jeannet Leendertse, Drum-shaped Seaweed Vessel, coiled-and-stitched basket, rockweed [ascophyllum nodosum], waxed linen, beeswax, tree resin, 17″ x 9.5″ x 9.5″, 2022 and Shoko Fukuda, Loop with Corners, coiled ramie, monofilament, plastic, 12″ x 11.5″ x 5″, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta

For our Spring exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textile and mixed media art (May 7 -15) browngrotta arts is delighted to introduce the work of two artists new to the gallery, Jennet Leenderste, Netherlands, US and Shoko Fukuda, Japan. Each of them creates sinuous and supple objects — Leenderste of seaweed and Fukuda of sisal, ramie and raffia. 

Portrait Jeannet Leendertse
Jeannet Leendertse portrait by David Grinnell

Jeannet Leenderste crafted with fabric as a child. She studied graphic design in the Netherlands and at 27 left for New York in search of an internship. After completing her degree cum laude, she moved to the Boston area and became an award-winning book designer. In recent years, has turned her focus again to textiles. Having grown up on the Dutch shore, her fiber work responds to the rugged coast of Maine, where she now lives and finds sculptural forms in the landscape and its creatures. As an immigrant, she says, her Dutch culture and heritage are always with her, while she continues to make this new environment her home. Exploring the concept of belonging, she develops work that feels at home in this marine environment. Adaptation and reflection are ongoing. Her fiber process brings these outer and inner worlds together.

Seaweed Vessels
Reclining Seaweed Vessel, Jeannet Leendertse, coiled-and-stitched basket rockweed [ascophyllum nodosum], waxed linen, beeswax, tree resin 8″ x 13″ x 7″, 2022; Seaweed Vessel with Stipe Handle, Jeannet Leendertse, coiled-and-stitched basket, rockweed [ascophyllum nodosum], sugar kelp [saccharina latissima] waxed linen, beeswax, tree resin, 11″ x 13″ x 5.5″, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta

“My work grows from coastal impressions and material experimentation,” Leenderste explains. “It takes on a new life when moved out of the studio and placed back in its natural environment.” That feedback propels her process. “I feel a strong responsibility to consider my materials, and what my creative process will leave behind. She began foraging seaweed—in particular rockweed—to work with, and discovered the amazing benefits this natural resource provides. “Seaweed not only creates a habitat for countless species,” she says, “it sequesters carbon, and protects our beleaguered shoreline from erosion as our sea levels rise.  Rockweed vessels show the beauty of this ancient algae, while drawing attention to its environmental value.” Several examples of Leenderste’s seaweed works will be featured in Crowdsourcing the Collective.

Portrait Shoko Fukuda
Shoko Fukuda portrait by Makoto Yano

Shoko Fukuda is a basketmaker and Japanese artist who holds a Bachelor of Design from Kyoto University of Art and Design, and a Master’s degree from Osaka University of Art, where she focused on research in textile practice.  She has exhibited her work internationally for the past 10 years. Shoko Fukuda currently works as an instructor at Kobe Design University in the Fashion Design department.

At browngrotta arts, we were recommended to Fukuda’s work by noted basketmaker Hisako Sekijima. “I encountered Sekijima’s artworks about 20 years ago,” Fukuda says. “Lines made with expressive plant materials were woven into an abstract and three-dimensional shapes. I had never seen such small artworks, like architectural structures before. I have been fascinated by the structural visibility and the various characteristics of the constructive form consisting, of regular lines ever since then.” 

Fiber Sculptures by Shoko Fukuda
Vertical and Horizontal Helix, Shoko Fukuda, raffia, 5.125″ x 6″ x 7.5″, 2015; Traced Contour II, ramie, monofilament, plastic, 6.5″ x 17″ x 3.5″, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

In Loop With Corners, Fukuda considered how to create a multifaceted form from a flat surface. By making corners, shapes are formed based on intentional decisions that lead to unexpected tortuous and twisted shapes. By weaving and fastening as if making a corner, a rotating shape was created. The movement of coiling creates a rhythm, and the lines being woven together leave organic traces in the air. In Vertical and Cylindrical helix is made of cylindrical spirals stacked like layers. They were woven from different directions — up and down, left and right — to form a single piece. The work has a dense structure, dyed black and shaped like a tightly closed shell. 

Fukuda is interested in “distortion” as a characteristic of basket weaving. “As I coil the thread around the core and shape it while holding the layers together, I look for the cause of distortion in the nature of the material, the direction of work and the angle of layers to effectively incorporate these elements into my work. The elasticity and shape of the core significantly affect the weaving process, as the thread constantly holds back the force of the core trying to bounce back outward.” By selecting materials and methods for weaving with the natural distortion in mind, Fukuda saw the possibility of developing twists and turns. “I find it interesting to see my intentions and the laws of nature influencing each other to create forms.”

Fukuda’s work, like Leenderste’s, will be well represented at Crowdsourcing the Collective, our Spring 2022 exhibition. Join us at browngrotta arts May 7-15, 2022. Save your space here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crowdsourcing-the-collective-a-survey-of-textiles-and-mixed-media-art-tickets-292520014237


Artist Focus: Rachel Max

Rachel Max portrait
Rachel Max in her studio, Photo by Tom Grotta

Rachel Max’s interest in basketry grew out of experiments with the tactile and the textile properties of metals. The UK artist’s work will be included in browngrotta arts’ upcoming exhibition Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textile and mixed media art.  A background in metal work that informs her work, while the materials and techniques used in basketry enable her to create a “fabric” with which to shape sculptural forms. The fabric is a delicate grid structure forming an intricate network of lines that are interlinked. Her pieces are often inspired by natural shapes. The unique shapes that result are endlessly engaging — each takes on a different appearance when viewed from varying vantage points.

The weave creates the foundation of all Max’s work. “I have developed a technique of layering to form structures that explore the relationship between lines and shadows and space,” she explains. The relationships between containment and concealment and movement and space are the constant rudiments in her works. “The materials used may vary; however, I have a particular penchant for fine cane, which has a delicacy that is pliable, with wire-like characteristics that suit the open weave compositions that I have been exploring. The contrast of very regular patterns with looser weaves is a recurring theme.” This weave has become her vocabulary, “a way of drawing in space that enables me to explore patterns and form through the interplay of lines, or light and shadow through density and color.”

Rachel Max wall basket
6rm Tonal Fifths, Rachel Max, dyed cane, plaited and twined, 25″ x 21″ x 7.5″, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Music is a large part of Max’s life and an important artistic influence. She has been exploring the ways in which musical terms, structure and composition can be translated into woven form. Both Endless and Tonal Fifths use, as a starting point, the fugue, a musical composition based upon one, two or more themes, which are gradually built up and intricately interwoven into a complex imitative form. “Elements of weaving are comparable to notes in music, a measure of time, a beat or a pulse. Rhythm is everywhere, in the movement of my hands as I weave, in the tension and spaces between each stitch, in the beat of our hearts and in the pace of our footsteps,” says Max.

Rachel Max,  blue basket
8rm Continuum, Rachel Max, dyed cane, plaited and twined, 15.5″x 17″ x 17″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

Color, the final stage in Max’s work, does not appear as an afterthought, but as an integral element. Color is “a necessary ingredient that unifies the process; it is paramount in my work,” she says. Works like Continuum explore the temporal and spatial elements associated with color. The color blue Max describes, for example, as an “ambiguous” color — cold yet often warm and comforting. “It is a color of depth and distance,” in Max’s view,  “of darkness and light and of dawn and dusk. It is a color linked closely to the sky and sea, both of which seem infinite and finite. Blue is paradoxically continuous, yet like the sky and sea, has a beginning and an end. Our lives, too, are structured around the continuous cycle of beginning and end. Our perception of color constantly shifts as the light changes. My aim was to translate these seemingly abstract ideas into something concrete. Continuum is a piece about such contrasts and opposites. It is both infinite and finite. A Mobius strip forms the inner core of the piece and the structure gradually shifts, forming a piece with two very different aspects.”

Rachel Max, Red basket
12rm Balance, Rachel Max, plaited and twined cane, 12″ x 16″ x 9″, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

Max was eager to participate in Crowdsourcing. “The way in which we are all currently living is one of the biggest adjustments I have ever had to make and one none of us could ever have imagined,” she wrote. “I would like to make something in response to the situation. At the moment it all feels uncontrollable, weighty and fragile. But the words ‘ together and apart’ keep coming to mind and I remember writing them down back in March. There is a huge sense of solidarity and compassion. We’re looking out for each other, we’re closer than we ever were but we cannot touch, hug or meet up. Our spatial awareness and of sense touch has become heightened as the air between us and the surfaces we touch have become dangerous. I would like to make piece which reflects this.” The result is Balance, which explores notions of infinity and time. “My aim was to distort the form, but still create something that is both finite and infinite. It’s rare that the title of a piece comes to me during the making process but as I was weaving this I became aware of its changing weight and stability, forcing me to rethink how I originally intended it to be seen. It became a subconscious reflection on the world we are in now: Everything seems to be in the balance.”

See Max’s work at Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textile and mixed media art (browngrotta arts, May 7 -15, 2021). https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crowdsourcing-the-collective-a-survey-of-textiles-and-mixed-media-art-tickets-292520014237


browngrotta arts and associated artists get good press

browngrotta arts and the artists we work with have been in the news lately — quite a bit in fact!

• In January, Simone Pheulpin’s remarkable career was the cover story in Crafts magazine from the UK. The work of Crafts “cover star” defies expectations. Her “ambiguous textile forms recall geological strata and the rings of a tree,” the magazine notes and “evoke the passage of time.” (Cynthia Rose, “Life Lines,” Crafts magazine, January 2022.)

• Karyl Sisson’s work graced the cover of the National Basketry Organization’s basketry+ in its Fall 2021/Winter 2022 issue. The article, “Karyl Sisson: From Nostalgic to Unexpected,” by Janet Mendelsohn, talks about Sisson’s Shapeshifters, a new series of vessels, which will be featured in browngrotta arts upcoming exhibition Crowdsourcing the Collective (May 7 – 15). The works are created of tightly quilled paper straws, laced like beads, threaded in circles, row by row to create cylinders that are manipulated to create lively sculptures. “I see my work as the expression of hidden energy and forces inside all of us,” the magazine quotes the Sisson. “The structures I create are diagrams of physical forces and laws that govern all growth and patterning.”

• A recent issue of the German publication of Art Aurea, profiles Yasuhisa Kohyama in its World Arts section. The magazine quotes Kohyama and it also quotes a German gallery owner, Marcus Müller, on the special tension Kohyama creates between the rough and smooth surfaces in his work and the unique colors of his work, created by the ash in his anagama kiln.
  • The Bay Area Artists’ Legacy Project has published its second volume, The Seventies, with a foreword by Maria Porges. One of the artists included is Lia Cook.
  • Maria Rosaria Roseo interviewed Carolina Yrarrázaval for a recent issue of Arte Morbida. “[Yrarrázaval’s] tapestries,” Roseo writes, “in which dark chromatic shades predominate with red and orange overlaps, together with the essential elegance of vegetable fibers such as jute, silk, cotton, hemp and linen, are the result of continuous research about the weaving techniques of ancient cultures such as pre-Columbian and Japanese which the artist draws inspiration from, creating textile abstractions with a refined, sober and rigorous aesthetic.” (https://www.artemorbida.com/interview-with-carolina-yrarrazaval/?lang=en).
  • HANDWERKEN, zonder grenzen (Crafting without limits) (https://www-handwerkenzondergrenzen-nl.translate.goog/?_x_tr_sl=nl&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc) in the Netherlands featured a profile of Aleksandra Stoyanov in a recent issue. “Her work often contains images of the life she left behind in Ukraine [before emigrating to Israel] and has an emotional character that focuses on the social dilemmas of immigrants experiencing the loss of family and disconnecting their connection,” writes Alie Dijk. “She also incorporates family photos in her work, as in From the First Person. In Silence, she creates a space for personal memories.”
  • In “Wonder Wall,”by June Hill, Embroidery magazine profiled Dutch artist Marian Bijlenga last year. Rather than drawing on paper, the author points out, Bijlenga draws in three dimensions, “creating a series of rhythmic, visual relationships between form, pattern and mark.”
  • Finally, 068 (formerly Wilton Magazine) touted browngrotta arts’ Spring 2022 exhibition in its March/April Issue (“Uncovering a Hidden Gem”). Author Julia Bruce says browngrotta arts is “a unique, international showcase for contemporary fiber arts.” The magazine further notes that fiber artists tend to be women, and that browngrotta arts is committed to promoting, exhibiting and documenting their work.

We’re all pleased to be noticed!


Art Assembled: New This Week in March

As the spring season kicks off, our bright, blooming artists continue to amaze us with their contemporary and innovative pieces that continue to push the envelope within the art community. Throughout the month of March, we introduced you to pieces from Lija Rage, Paul Furneaux, Mary Giles, James Bassler and so many other talented artists. Read on for a closer look at the work from these artists!

Lija Rage’s Beginning, 2019, Bamboo, copper wire, fabric, 46 1/4 × 39 1/2 × 1 1/4 in, 117.5 × 100.3 × 3.2 cm. Photos by Tom Grotta.

This lively piece, Beginning, was created by Latvian artist, Lija Rage. Rage has said that she often finds inspiration from her homeland – drawing vibrant colors and attributes from the rich and diverse elements in Latvian nature and infusing them into her art.

In addition to the bright themes that can be found throughout Rage’s pieces, her artwork is also often created with bamboo and copper wire elements.

Paul Furneaux, 7pf Garden Shadows: City Shadows Mokuhanga (Japanese woodcut print ), gesso, rice paste and pva archival glue, solid tulip wood 20.5” x 55” x 4”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Scottish artist, Paul Furneaux, consistently impresses us with his inspired use of traditional printing techniques within his art. Furneaux has been perfecting his use of traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques for over the past decade, and his expertise shows clearly throughout his work.

When asked about his printing technique of choice, Furneaux said: “This inherently beautiful and simple process has allowed my work to develop in a contemplative and semi-abstract way.”

Silver Figure, Mary Giles, 24″ x 4.5″, 1999. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This innovative piece comes from the late Mary Giles, an American artist who was and is near and dear to our hearts at browngrotta arts. Throughout her career, Giles created dynamic artwork that ranged from mixed-media coiled baskets that are sculptural in nature, totems and three-dimensional wall works.

Her work is known for its tactile qualities and the reflective and malleable materials that it’s composed of. 

Before her death in 2018, the wall panels she created were inspired by her growing concerns about our population and problems that plague the word. 

6jb Pre-Columbian Meets Mid-Century Modern, James Bassler, single-ply linen,
synthetic dyes; four-selvage construction; 55” x 56” , 2006. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This artwork was created by James Bassler, a renowned American fiber artist based out of California. Bassler has built his career around the art and craft of weaving. He is well known around for his use of ancient pre-Columbian techniques and materials, which he uses to create traditional works with contemporary themes.  

Bassler has spent a lifetime investigating Peruvian and cube weaving and other techniques and materials like nettle and cochuyi. In some of his works, though, politics takes center stage.

We have so many exciting things (art and exhibitions alike) in store as the spring months unfold, so keep your eyes peeled for all that awaits! We will also be introducing our followers to new art every Monday, so follow us on social media to stay up-to-date on all the new art we’re bringing to the table.


Art + Science + Textile

We are big supporters of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics — education initiatives. STEAM adds the soft skills of the Arts to the harder Scientific, Technological, Engineering or Mathematical STEM studies to enhance critical and innovative thinking. As an example, STEAM encourages collaboration to understand STEM concepts. STEAM uses tools such as data visualization or fine art imagery to deepen one’s understanding of science, math and technology. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking is what leads STEAM professionals to create new products using 3D printers or distill complicated data sets into easy-to-understand formats, such as infographics. 

Hannah Skye Dunnigan, NASA’s Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing Idea Challenge interview

Projects that result from this collaborative approach can be exciting and out of the box — and some of them involve textile concepts. In an unconventional partnership, a team of undergraduates in design and engineering from Brown and RISD won Most Creative Concept in 2021 at NASA’s Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-Changing Idea Challenge. The team was given $90,000 to create a solution for moon dust. Their solution to control moon dust, which creates significant problems for astronauts and their equipment, involved bundles of fibers, inspired by chinchilla fur, that carry a static charge. Dust that’s not repelled by the charge is caught in the fibers. The design and prototyping lead of the project was Hannah Skye Dunnigan, daughter of bga artist Wendy Wahl and furniture designer John Dunnigan. As a designer, Dunnigan told The Brown Daily Herald,  she was very proud that the team showed that “designers can be in the space as well, not just engineers.” (“Brown, RISD team wins ‘Most Creative Concept’ at NASA Challenge Forum,” The Brown Daily Herald, November 22, 2021). The Brown-RISD connection is potent, Christopher Bull, a senior lecturer in engineering and principal investigator of the project, told the Herald, because it “gets diverse people in the same room trying to solve the problem.” (Here is a Youtube link of their presentation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQnJnzSlxBo.) 

27lc Data Dots Emotional Intensity cotton, rayon, woven 78” x 50,” 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Lia Cook of California, has spent years in STEAM experimentation of her own, exploring the intersections of art, technology and science in her artwork. She is one of the artists in Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Fiber at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, a celebration of interdisciplinary creativity and collaborative learning. As the Museum explains, Radical Fiber provides the work as at once fine art, process-driven craft, and scientific tool, complicating existing frameworks across fields. It asks questions: “Can a crochet hook and yarn uniquely explain the complexities of non-Euclidean geometry? How does the 1804 Jacquard loom relate to modern computing?” The exhibition reframes the histories of fiber/science intersections, asking not only how artists continue to engage in scientific inquiry through fiber, but also, how the medium can be used to improve our world for the future. Among the questions to be asked is one Cook has been exploring for some time: How do viewers’ reactions vary when they look at a photograph versus her Jacquard weavings of a photo image  During the Radical Fiber exhibition, a study will be conducted by the Skidmore’s Psychology Department in the neuroscience lab comparing behavioral responses to a series of woven faces by Lia Cook with with the identical photo of the same image. The subjects will be shown 10 digitized photos of the black-and-white photographs of faces and 10 digitized photos of the black-and-white, cotton-and-rayon, woven tapestries translated from the photos and asked to rate the intensity of the facial expression depicted in the image, from 1 (not at all intense) to 7 (extremely intense).

Cook has conducted her own studies of viewers’ responses. To create Data Dots Emotional Intensity, Cook conducted an informal survey of viewers of a large childhood photo of herself and a weaving of the same image. She translated the data she collected into dots and superimposed them on a woven portrait — blue for people who felt no difference between the two; yellow for those more affected by the photo and red for those who found the woven image more emotionally affecting. The woven image won. Red dots predominate, an observable amalgam of art and science.  “A visual pun is at hand,” writes Deborah Valoma of Lia Cook’s work.“[D]igital technology is juxtaposed to digital senses, a reminder that no matter how technologically sophisticated the process, weaving is still a medium of touch and embodied thought….,” Deborah Valoma, “Lia Cook: Seeing Touch,” Lia Cook: In the Folds — Works from 1973-1997 (2007, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT).

10-11fl White Shell Tongue no.1-2, Federica Luzzi, fine art print on “baritata” paper, 66.875” x 24.75” x 1.25”; 78.625” x 32.75” x 1.25”, 2006

Italian textile sculptor, Federica Luzzi has created works born of conversations with researchers at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Frascati, Italy on concepts of dark matter, antimatter, nuclear, subnuclear physics, and an accelerator of particles. Various images of each side of three white sculptures are depicted; “gesture and matter are the terms of a relationship still waiting to be deciphered,” Luzzi explains. Working in the opposite direction of the classic and traditional concept of sculpture as a “way of removing,” the textile medium allows Luzzi to work around a void. Each sculpture, while having a mathematical initial scheme, is ultimately rendered with an element of mistake. “The final unexpected effect I interpret as an ideogram, a gesture, that presents itself as the work unfolds,” she says. “The White Shell Tongue prints suggest a primordial voice, speaking in a language now unknown to us but original, a pure, reductive writing externality, with wrappings and emptied shells.” 

9gs Out of Focus 1-9, Grethe Sørensen, handwoven cotton, 87″ x 85.5″ x 1.5″, 2007

In Denmark, Grethe Sørensen has unpacked digital technologies to create her tapestries. She has developed her own technique, combining weaving and video, selecting and manipulating still images to create a poetic universe of pixels, headlights, traffic lights, neon shop and advertising signs meticulously rendered in cotton thread. She is fascinated by color gradation; dying on the warp before weaving, varying the colors by mixing threads of different nuances in the warp. For Out of Focus 1-9, the artist created an image of hard-edged pixels in basic colors blown up until they appeared “liquid.” Pixels in basic colors are the starting point for her woven constructions. 

Another California artist, Sarah Rosalena Brady,  draws on her multiracial background as Huichol and Laguna Pueblo,  focusing her research on Indigenous scholarship and mentorship in STEAM. She describes her work as deconstructing technology with material interventions, creating new narratives for hybrid objects that speak on issues such as AI, aerospace technologies, and decolonial posthumanism. Her hybrid works operate between human/nonhuman, ancient/future, and handmade/autonomous principles to override power structures rooted in colonialism. Her solo exhibition at Blum & Poe, LA in 2021, https://contemporaryartreview.la/sarah-rosalena-brady-at-blum-and-poe/ featured AI-generated double-sided tapestries depicting satellite images of ice on Mars. 

Brady is Assistant Professor of Computational Craft and Haptic Media in the Department of Art at UC Santa Barbara. UCSB’s is just one of the labs and departments around the US exploring the links between art and science. Another is the recently opened International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins Univeristy in Maryland, which studies neuroaesthetics, the scientific study of how the brain responds to the arts and aesthetic experiences, and undertakes this study for the purpose of improving biological, psychological, social/cultural or spiritual outcomes for individuals or populations. “We’re on a mission to amplify human potential,” the Lab declares on its website. The Los Angeles County Museum hosts the LACMA Art + Technology Lab which supports experiments in design, creative entrepreneurship, adventures in art and industry, collaboration, and interdisciplinary dialogue. Another nonprofit endeavor, the SciArt Initiative,  encourages the connectivity and cross-disciplinary approaches needed for the 21st century. The organization notes that artists and scientists seek answers to the same fundamental questions: who are we, why are we here, and where are we going? Both art and science build models of human experience in order to extend the boundaries of human capacity. Despite this common ground, artists and scientists are too often separate in their endeavors. Through exhibitions and micro-grants, the Initiative aims to create more scientific and artistic exchange. 

Exploration into the merger of art and technology, science and craft, is in its early days — watch for more experiments and innovative works.


Art in the Barn at browngrotta arts this May – Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textile and mixed media art

Włodzimierz Cygan, Stéphanie Jacques
On the wall Włodzimierz Cygan, sculptures by Stéphanie Jacques. photo by Tom Grotta

This May, browngrotta arts presents their Spring 2021 Art in the Barn exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective: survey of textile and mixed media art  (May 7 – 15, 2021). It will be accompanied by our 53rd catalog, available on browngrotta.com after May 6th.

Chang Yeonsoon, Naomi Kobayashi
Chang Yeonsoon, The Path which leads to the center GR-202101, teflon mesh, pure gold leaf, eco-friendly resin, 8″ x 8″ x 4.25″, 2021; ITO Naomi Kobayashi, Coma, cotton thread, 20″ x 20″ x 2.25″, 1982. photo by Tom Grotta

The 40 artists in Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textile and mixed media art illustrate the vitality of art textiles, ceramics and mixed media. The growing prominence of these art forms finds them the subject of exhibitions in major museums, intermixed with paintings and traditional sculpture in ways unthinkable a decade ago. The journey of the artists in Crowdsourcing the Collective tells us much about where craft and fiber art are now, and about how they got here. Some of the artists began working during craft and fiber art’s less popular period in the ’80s and ‘90s; some have been working since fiber art’s first heyday in the ’70s. Their education, experience and inspiration vary. They differ in material and approach. They come from more than a dozen countries around the world and the influence of those places is often evident in their work.

works by Polly Sutton
Works by Polly Sutton: Quatro, cedar bark, cane, 5” x 8.375” x 8.125”, 2022; Wila, cedar bark, ash, spruce root, 6.875” x 10.75” x 9.75”, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

This exhibition reflects the astonishing range of materials and techniques that make this work so well regarded. Tapestries of silk and agave, sculptures of seaweed, seagrass and willow, wall works made of sandpaper, hemp and horsehair and ceramics of Shigaraki clay will all be included. The scope of these artists’ preoccupations are on view here, too — from environmental concerns, to questions of the cosmos and identity, to explorations of material and process. It includes new work, work from earlier periods and work from artists we have invited specifically for this exhibition. Come and see what we have compiled!

Reserve a space on Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/crowdsourcing-the-collective-a-survey-of-textiles-and-mixed-media-art-tickets-292520014237

Exhibition Dates/Hours

Opening & Artists Reception
Saturday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM (300 Visitor Cap)

Remainder of the exhibition
Sunday, May 8th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/hour)
Monday, May 9th – Saturday, May 14th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/hour)

Final Day
Sunday, May 15th: 11AM to 6PM (40 visitors/ hour)

Address
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897

Safety protocols
Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • We will follow current state and federal guidelines surrounding COVID-19 • As of March 1, 2022, masks are not required • No narrow heels please (barn floors)