Category: Commission

Congratulations! Mary Giles is a Renwick Gallery Master of the Medium

Mary Giles details by Tom Grotta and Don Casper

Mary Giles details by Tom Grotta and Don Casper

Today, Mary Giles will receive the 2013 Master of the Medium award for fiber from the James Renwick Alliance and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. The Masters of the Medium award recognizes artists of consummate craftsmanship who have contributed to and influenced their chosen fields. The Masters of the Medium awards were initiated in 1997 on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the James Renwick Alliance and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery. The Masters of the Medium Awards are given biennially in odd numbered years.

Mary Giles resides in St. Croix, Minnesota. She creates mixed-media coiled baskets that are sculptural in nature, totems and three-dimensional wall works. Giles’ recently created a 53-inch “boulder,” The Long Divide, of hammered waxed linen, torched tin-coated copper and brass.

The Long Divide by Mary Giles, photo by Don Casper

The Long Divide by Mary Giles, photo by Don Casper

Her 2012 work,Twist, has been added to the American Decorative Arts collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.

Sentry Field by Mary giles, photo by Tom Grotta

Sentry Field by Mary giles, photo by Tom Grotta

The sculptural piece was made of waxed linen, iron twists, hammered tin and coated copper wire. Giles’ work is in several other museum collections, including that of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minnesota, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin, Contemporary Art Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York. She has said of her work, “Today, I am very concerned about the environment and try to capture the forms, textures and light found in nature” and that she is influenced by the views out of her studio windows, “the light on the river, shadows in the woods, and the textures of the water, rocks and trees.”


Update: Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink Creates a Dialogue

In a previous blog,  we wrote about Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink, an installation at the University of Wyoming that garnered the ire of local legislators who viewed it as a poor educational investment. Chalk one up to transformative power art.  As you can see from the editorial below, by Wyoming State representative, Tom Lubnau, in the Gillette News Record, (where Rhonda used to live) the controversy led to a valuable dialogue about art, education, energy and the environment http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/stories/Trying-to-make-silk-purses-from-sows-ears,61404.  Here’s also an image of Chris Drury’s most recent Wyoming-inspired art work, On the Ground: Above and Below Wyoming.

topographical map woven with a Geological map of the state. The border is coal dust and Wyoming earth. The pattern is wind blowing off the Rockies. Size: 3'4"€ x 4'€™1.5"€

Trying to make silk purses
from sows’ ears

Tom Lubnau
Gillette News Record, September 6, 2011

A few weeks ago, the University of Wyoming unveiled a new on-campus sculpture entitled “Carbon Sink.”

The artist,  Chris Drury, is a worldfamous sculptor, the university paid $40,000 to install the sculpture on campus. The artist designed the sculpture as a series of dead logs arranged in a spiral pattern, which he hoped would symbolize the death of forests from pine beetles due to global warming.

On the Ground: Above and Below Wyoming Detail by Chris Drury

Much has been written by journalists, bloggers and in some tersely worded emails about the comments Reps. Gregg Blikre, Norine Kasperik and I made about the hypocrisy of accepting dollars derived from carbon fuels to put up an anti-carbon sculpture. People, mostly from California and New York told we told us we should be “ashamed of ourselves” and that we are “ignorant bumpkins because we hate anything that resembles culture” and referred to us as “cow flops and road apples.”

It is important to understand what we didn’t do. We didn’t ask the sculpture be taken down. We didn’t take any steps to remove funding from the university. And we didn’t engage in any form of censorship. What did we do? We defended our friends and neighbors. Prompted by the existence of the piece of art, we started a discussion. My old art teachers, from back in the day, told me that art was supposed to provoke discussion, to inspire and to affect the viewer.

And that is what we did. We used the existence of the art as an inspiration piece to let folks know that between 60 and 80 percent of the state’s budget is dependent on extractive industries. We asked for some appreciation and kudos for the hard-working folks in the energy industry, who go to work day after day, meeting America’s energy needs and funding in large measure the University of Wyoming budget. We told the university that we thought it was out of touch with the rest of the state, and that we wished they would spend as much time working with us to meet our educational needs as they did being critical of the industries that pay the bills in Wyoming.

And to their credit, the administration of the University of Wyoming listened. We engaged in a dialogue about the misunderstandings, misperceptions and missed opportunities that exist between the University of Wyoming and Campbell County. University President Dr. Tom Buchanan, Trustees Warren Lauer and Jim Neiman, and senior UW staffers Don Richards and Mike Massie took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Gillette, to tour a power plant, the college and other community facilities, and to meet with community leaders and energy company officials to discuss opportunities for UW to offer educational services in the Campbell County area.

Carbon Sink University of Wyoming

The discussions were positive. Dr. Buchanan left the citizens of Campbell County with a clear challenge. If we can define a specific set of needs that can be met by the university rather than a vague list of complaints, the university will work to meet those needs. The monkey is now on the backs of the citizens of Campbell County. We have a great opportunity to advance the education opportunities and the quality of life in northeastern Wyoming if we are wise, and if we can specifically define our needs and put a plan in place to accomplish those needs.

Thanks to Chris Drury for your sculpture. While I don’t agree with your science, or what you believe your sculpture symbolizes, the burnt logs laying in a circular pattern on the grounds of the University of Wyoming were a catalyst to open discussions on a greater UW presence in Campbell County. Art prompted discussion. If we accept the challenge, discussion will lead to better education and an enhanced quality of life.

Rep. Tom Lubnau represents Campbell County. Rep. Gregg Blikre and Rep. Norine Kasperik of Campbell County also joined with him in signing this opinion piece. (reprinted with permission).

For Chris’s views and more on the controversy, visit his blog: http://chrisdrury.blogspot.com/2011_09_01_archive.html.


Installation News: Grethe Sørenson for Tronrud Engineering in Norway

Greyscale+Colour by Grethe Sørensen photo by Bo Hovgaard

In 2010, Danish artist Grethe Sørensen was commissioned to produce a site-specific, large-scale work of textile art for Tronrud Engineering in Hønefoss, Norway. Tronrud Engineering specializes in developing machinery within the industrial automation area. The firm’s new location, designed by Norwegian architects Snøhetta (Snoarc), is situated at Eggemoen, the largest natural flat plateau in Norway.

Tronrud-Grey by Grethe Sørensen photo by Bo Hovgaard

Detail Greyscale by Grethe Sørensen photo by Bo Hovgaard

The work that resulted was Fjeld og li og fjord, a title taken from a quotation from a Danish song about Norwegian landscapes which means “mountain and meadow and fiord.” For the work’s motif, Sørensen took as a point of departure the contours of the landscape around Eggemoen, and rendered these contours in three variations on the same theme — Contour, Greyscale and Color — one theme for each floor in the building. The textiles are integrated into the structure of the building; placed opposite the entrance doors on three floors above each other covering walls of 15 square meters each. Each piece consists of 5 panels of jacquard-woven fabric.

Tronrud-Black by Grethe Sørensen photo by Bo Hovgaard

Detail-Contour by Greteh Sørensen photo by Bo Hovgaard

The first floor shows a color fantasy of the landscape theme. This image is the first impression to visitors and it may be seen as an expression of the creativity that is one of the main characteristics of Tronrud Engineering. The second floor has the Greyscale. From a distance it gives a three-dimensional impression of the landscape. On closer inspection, it’s evident that it is made up of different patterns in black and white – typical digital patterns. These patterns reference Norwegian a traditional knitting pattern, “lusekofte,” a Norwegian sweater pattern, dating from the 19th century. It features a black-and-white design, and the name means “lice jacket,” after the isolated black stitches. The Greyscale motif represents tradition combined with innovation as an expression of the versatility and wide-ranging skills represented by the people in the company. On the third floor is the pure black-and-white image of the landscape with contours and a line in red. This piece expresses the sharpness, seriousness and precision for which the firm is known.

Portrait of Grethe Sørensen¸photo by Bo Hovgaard

The samples were woven by Sørensen on a handloom with digital single-thread control. The final pieces were woven on an industrial jacquard loom at Digital Lab, at the Audax Textile Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands.


Dispatches: Helena Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa at Purdue

Helena Hernmarck's Tabula Rasa at the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue's College of Liberal Arts

In 2009, Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana selected Helena Hernmarck to design and execute a tapestry for the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue’s College of Liberal Arts. Lisa Lee Peterson, Professor and Graduate Director of Department of Art and Design, was instrumental in Hernmarck’s selection by the university art committee.  “Of the artists working in tapestry today,” the University’s press materials quote Jack Lenor Larson, “Helena Hernmarck stands without peer.  Her works have been selected for scores of prestigious public spaces and are seen each year by millions of viewers.  The hallmark of Ms. Hernmarck’s work is her skill in creating the optical illusion of three-dimensional designs on flat but richly textured surfaces of tapestry.”

Helena Hernmarck and Lisa Lee Peterson in Front of Tabula Rasa at Purdue University. Photo by Skif Peterson

The University determined the location of the piece — the stairwell between the first and second floors — but left the other details to Hernmarck, who addressed two needs in her conception for the piece. She wanted the designed image to collectively represent the various art forms that are studied within the building — painting, ceramic, jewelry, textile, industrial design, theater, dance and music and she wanted the design to fit within the chosen area and increase the feeling of space in the stairwell.

Designed during the summer 2009, Hernmarck settled on a theme for the design: tabula rasa, the unwritten page, also a piece of ceramic that is scraped clean of marks after each use. Hernmarck’s Tabula Rasa would represent the beginning of the creative journey, whether at inception or at the commencement of an additional phase of the creative process.  During sketching, Hernmarck often finds the road to a final design through a process of changes or “scraping away” of initial ideas in such a way that previous marks still become part of the overall design. The early phase of Tabula Rasa is referenced in the few words written on a white page woven in the tapestry.

Hernmarck achieved the feeling of space for the stairwell that she envisioned by painting and then photographing small cut-up pieces of watercolors so that they cast shadows creating an image of being in flight. This enabled her to place the smallest of the elements of Tabula Rasa closest to the plane of the image, i.e. the place with the most sense of urgency. The final design includes a play on shadows to create a visual illusion on different levels which solved the challenge of designing the lower portion of the work to catch the eye of a person walking up the staircase.

Tabula Rasa, just off-the-loom on display at the Dalamas Museum, Falun, Sweden

Alice Lund Textiles, Borlange, Sweden produced the tapestry. The main weavers were Britt-Marie Bertilsson and Ebba Bergstrom. Tabula Rasa is the twenty-first tapestry of Helena Hernmarck’s design and technique to be woven at Alice Lund Textiles since 1975. The weaving took 30 weeks from beginning to finish. During this time, Hernmarck visited the studio periodically in order to oversee the quality of the work and to participate in both the weaving and the dying process of the wool with its numerous variations, shades and values. The colors were custom dyed at Wålstedts Textile Spinning and Dying Workshop in Dala-Floda. For Tabula Rasa the workshop dyed 24 kg of wool in 41 different colors. Hernmarck prefers to use of a variety of different qualities in the spun wool, such as thin gobeline, gobelin with rya wool, and single-ply rya wool. The final work includes hundreds of different colors and textures. A video of the weaving of  Tabula Rasa can be viewed at http://browngrotta.com/Pages/hernmarck.php.

Tabula Rasa by Helena Hernmarck Detail

Hernmarck’s unique technique combines different weaving methods and patterns with which she has experimented for more than 45 years. The Hernmarck tapestry technique creates a coarse texture much like the Impressionists’ painting style of the early 1900s. A full-scale enlargement of the image in black and white is created before beginning the tapestry. The cartoon is then adhered to the back side of the tapestry and draped over an aluminum tube that presses the cartoon up against the warp from underneath. The cartoon makes it possible to follow the forms and shadows that can be seen through the warp threads. In order to observe what the weaving will look like at a distance, the artist looks through a small pair of binoculars, turned backwards.  While the tapestry is woven on the horizontal loom, only 50 cm of the tapestry can be viewed at one time.  The ongoing action and reaction in changing colors and weaving techniques creates the overall beauty of the tapestry.

Tabula Rasa was unveiled at Purdue on October 12, 2010. The final size of the tapestry is 3 meters high x 4.45 meters wide (11′ x 14.3′); the weight about 50 kg. Hernmarck has created a related companion piece, Tabula Rasa 2, which is available for sale. http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php

In Progress: Helena Hernmark’s Tabula Rasa

hernmarck-purdue.1.jpg

Here are rare in-progress images of Helena Hernmarck’s major commission for Pao Hall at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The finished work will be approximately 10 x 14.5 feet and is due to be completed later this year. Hernmarck was recommended to the University by Lisa Lee Peterson. Peterson is an artist and professor in the Department of Art and Design in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts at Purdue, where she has taught fiber arts and textile design for twenty-five years.hernmarck.purdue.2.jpg

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Commission, Helena Hernmarck, Tapestry, Contemporary Tapestry