Category: Exhibitions

UK Basketry Revisited at the Ruthin Craft Centre

Propius, Lizzie Farey, willow
Propius, Lizzie Farey, willow
© Lizzie Farey

Works by a notable group of artists are on exhibit in Basketry: Function & Ornament at the Ruthin Craft Centre in the UK through October 13, 2019. The exhibition, curated by Gregory Parsons, looks at current practice of some 30 makers from throughout the UK including bg artists Lizzie Farey, Dail Behennah, Tim Johnson, Rachel Max and Laura Ellen Bacon. Basketry: Function & Ornament brings together functional vernacular work from various parts of the country, alongside pieces that are sculptural and ornamental, providing “a survey of a craft that has been somewhat sidelined in times of great technological advances, yet offers a sustainable answer to so much of our modern day throw-away habits.”

Keeping Time Baskets
Keeping Time Baskets,
© Tim Johnson, 2019

Tim Johnson’s artistry is represented by baskets from his “Keeping Time” series. “These ‘keeping time’ baskets, like all baskets, take time to make,” he says. “The twining, folding and stitching that holds them together marks increments of being, a declaration of presence, the makers time is kept in the work, a trace of activity. “

Thatched and piled textile structures date back to Neolithic times, Johnson says, providing insulation and weather protection in our ancestors garments and shelters. “In the ‘keeping time’ series I am happy to work in this tradition and relate the basket’s captured spaces to the containment of ancient clothing and architecture.”

Ventus, Lizzie Farey, willow
Ventus, Lizzie Farey, willow
© Lizzie Farey

The other artists in Basketry: Function & Ornament include influential makers Lois Walpole and Mary Butcher, the remarkable Irish basketmaker Joe Hogan and Lise Bech along with Mandy Coates, John Cowan, Mary Crabb, Jane Crisp, Jenny Crisp, Alison Dickens, Rosie Farey, Eddie Glew, Charlie Groves, Stella Harding, Peter Howcroft, Anna King, Annemarie O’Sullivan, Sarah Paramor, Dominic Parrette, Polly Pollock, Ruth Pybus & David Brown, Clare Revera, Lorna Singleton and Maggie Smith.
RUTHIN CRAFT CENTRE
THE CENTRE FOR THE APPLIED ARTS
PARK ROAD, RUTHIN
DENBIGHSHIRE
LL15 1BB
OPEN DAILY
10.00AM – 5.30PM
ADMISSION FREE


Dispatches: Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline from the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum

There are no end to art and historical treasures in Philadelphia and Rhonda had a chance to meet up with some good friends and take in a few last week. The Philadelphia Art Museum is a wonder and its annex, the Perelman Building, houses two intriguing exhibits: Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage through September 2nd. Souls Grown Deep combines and extraordinary collection of textile art, sculpture, and painting acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Roman Stripes Variation Quilt, 1970, Loretta Pettway(born 1942)

With remarkable inventiveness, generations of quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created arresting compositions of color and form from worn-out clothes and other repurposed fabrics. Provocative mixed-media paintings and found-object sculptures by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley and others are displayed amongst the quilts, whose subjects and materials echo with the painful history of the American South and the conditions of life for many who live there. The collage exhibition includes works by Joseph Cornell, a personal favorite, and other less-expected names including Romare Bearden, Bettye Saar and Pablo Picasso.

Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door), 1994, by Lonnie Holley (American, born 1950), 2017-229-24.
Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

We found artfulness of another kind at the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Some interesting textiles are on display, including a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation) and an embroidered potholder that reads, “Any Holder but a Slaveholder.” We also appreciated the Anti-Slavery Alphabet from 1847.

Cardbird II, 1971, Robert Rauschenberg

The exhibition has an ambitious premise, to illustrate how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. The 3,000- square-foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. It features the stories of lesser-known individuals, too, in order to shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” Highlighted are the three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. The exhibition covers, as the Wall Street Journal terms it: “the racially egalitarian society that was briefly wrestled into being after the abolition of slavery, before the ravages of Jim Crow and the hard-fought triumphs of the civil-rights movement.”

Potholder, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

The artfulness is evident in the matter-of-fact way the signage and artifacts give equal time to the efforts made to reach equality and those determined to subvert each of those amendments — including displays about Ku Klux Klan, complete with original robes, which were not white but maroon and heavily ornamented. Also edifying and persuasive is the neutrally presented, but inescapable, evidence that the goals of these amendments are yet to be achieved. An example, noted by one reviewer, is the 13th Amendment. “The interactive displays…show the debates, the drafts, and the redrafting of those amendments and help to explain how the final draft [of the 13th] actually allowed forced labor ‘as a punishment for crime’ … It does not take long to make the connection between the 13th Amendment and the shockingly profitable system of prison labor and prison farms which still exists today.” (Margaret Darby, Exhibit Review: Civil War and Reconstruction Phillylifeandculture.com, May 9, 2019).

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia



Dispatches: San Francisco

Carter Grotta, of our browngrotta arts team, traveled to San Francisco last month. We asked him to snapshots of interesting art. Here are some of the highlights!

First the de Young. There, Carter visited the Saxe Collection at the de Young Museum, where he saw an Untitled work of bark and stone by Dorothy Gill Barnes and ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu and Paul Soldner.

Ruth Asawa installation at the deYoung Museum

A great collection of works by Ruth Asawa, San Francisco’s most well-known fiber artist, is also on display at the de Young Museum along with a unique abstract quilt, A Bend in the River, by Joe Cunningham.

A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
SFMOCA digital installation

Next SFMOCA. Carter was quite taken by this remarkable digital installation, part of snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, a unique take on transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks. This work illustrates what it means to engage with the technological advancements of the 21st century to create digital conversations in photographs.

Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench
Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench

Also housed at the SFMOMA, the sculptures of Magdalena Abankanowicz, like Four on a Bench, are representative of the oppressive historic conditions of her native country, Poland.

Jannis Kounellis Untitled piece of steel
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled

Also at SFMOMA, was this interesting Untitled piece of steel, crucible, tar and rope, by Italian-born artist, Jannis Kounellis, in The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection.

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV bamboo sculpture
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Also worth a trip, the Asian Art Museum which features an exciting installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV — a 4th generation bamboo artist, that seems to have grown organically within the gallery space.

Federal Court House building in San Francisco
Federal Court House Building

What Carter couldn’t see — or photograph at least — was That Word, a larger-than-life sculpture of twigs by Gyöngy Laky which is on loan to the federal courts where photography is strictly prohibited.
You can see That Word, though, even if you can’t take a photograph. Just one of a series of interesting stops in a city that is great for art tourism!


Art & Identity: the Catalog

art + identity: an international view catalog
art + identity: an international view; a browngrotta arts exhibition catalog

We produced our 49th publication this spring, a 156-page catalog, art + identity: an international view. The catalog features work by 62 artists who have lived and worked in 22 countries in the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America. We asked the artists who participated to provide us works that illustrated how identity and influence are reflected in their art. We selected works by artists no longer living on the same basis. The artists involved took an expansive approach, but as you’ll see in the catalog, a few themes emerged. Some artists, for example, were influenced by  the art of other cultures  — through visiting or study. For Dawn MacNutt, it was classical Greek sculpture she saw at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and then in Greece that she has translated in her willow figures. For Paul Furneaux, influences included time spent in Mexico, at Norwegian fjords and then, Japan, where he studied Japanese woodblock. For Adela Akers it was Peruvian weavers; Agneta Hobin,

Nnenna Okore spread
Nnenna Okore spread art + identity: an international view catalog spread

a trip to Zuni pueblos Nnenna Okore was raised in and studied in Nigeria. Common within her body of works is the use of ordinary materials, repetitive processes and varying textures that make references to everyday Nigerian practices and cultural objects. Katherine Westphal had what one writer called “magpie-like instincts.” She called herself a tourist – “then it all pops out in my work – someone else’s culture and mine, mixed in the eggbeater of my mind…” Others found inspiration close to home. Though she travelled extensively and studied in France, Canadian artist, Micheline Beauchemin repeatedly returned to the St. Lawrence River as a theme.

Mary Merkel-Hess catalog spread
Mary Merkel-Hess art + identity: an international view catalog spread

Mary Merkel-Hess evokes the plains of her home in Iowa like “the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed,” a quote from Willa Cather, which Mary says she, too, has seen. Mérida, Venezuela, the place they live, and can always come back to, has been a primary influence on Eduardo Portillo’s and Maria Davila’s our way of thinking, life and work. Its geography and people have given them a strong sense of place. Processes and materials motivated a third group of artists. “I draw inspiration from age-old Indian and Japanese traditional resist-dyeing techniques such as bandhini and shibori ,” says Neha Puri Dhir.

Neha Puri Dhir catalog spread
Neha Puri Dhir catalog spread art + identity: an international view

Ed Rossbach was also a relentless experimenter who learned and adapted dozens of techniques and unusual materials from lacemaking with plastic tubes to enlarging then reinterpreting images from Coptic tapestries to weaving raffia on a loom after studying weavings from Africa. Susie Gillespie grows flax from seed that she processes by retting, breaking and hackling before spinning it into yarn.  The clay from Shigaraki, Japan is crucial to Yasuhisa Kohyama’s work – through the techniques he has pioneered, he aims to highlight the upheavals evident in its creation, including volcanic eruptions and the erosion of water and wind.
Other artists took a more interior and personal view: Aleksandra Stoyanov of the Ukraine and now Israel uses images of ancestors in her work, this time images from childhood, and she notes that the child comes with us into adulthood. Irina Kolesnikova also grew up in Russia. Aspects of her everyday life there are reflected in artworks that feature her Alter Ego – “a slightly comic, clumsy human of an uncertain age (who is just a survivor struggling to keep his existence balanced).” Personal and universal connections to the sensuality and materiality of the woven image motivates Lia Cook.

art + identity: an international view; a browngrotta arts exhibition catalog

She is particularly interested in the emotional connection to memories of touch and cloth. She’s worked with neurologists to measure brainwaves for people who look at a photograph versus a woven version of the same image. The wider world and related issues were the subject for others. Nancy Koenigsberg’s work for this exhibit originated as a visual and emotional response the scenes destruction from the recent California wildfires and to the unfolding ecological disaster of which they are symptomatic. Lewis Knauss’ work has also begun to reflect the worldwide concern for climate change. American artist Mary Giles began creating wall panels that dealt with her concerns about population some years before her death in 2018, exploring in them ideas of density and boundaries.

photo spread
Norma Minkowtz, The Path (pages 50-51) Lilla Kulka, Odchodzacy and Co-Bog Zlaczyl (pages 114-115) Gyöngy Laky, Neo Rupee and Reach (pages 40-41)

The catalog includes an essay, The Textile Traveller, by Jessica Hemmings, Ph.d., Professor of Crafts, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, which creates perspective. This exhibition, “reminds us that the textile is an expert traveller – adept at absorbing new surroundings and influences while retaining elements of previous contexts and functions. Many physically embody the buzz word of our times: resilience. Attention to the textile’s many histories and journeys can help us trace and begin to understand the, often overwhelming, complexities contemporary societies face.”

Marianne Kemp horsehair weaving
Marianne Kemp 5mk Drifting Dialogues horsehair, cotton, linen 45” x 42” x 3.5 “, 2018

The catalog can be ordered for $50 plus tax and shipping on our website at browngrotta arts: http://store.browngrotta.com/art-identity-an-international-view/


Art Out and About — Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

Detail of Imprint by Caroline Bartlett. Photo by Yeshen Venema & The National Centre for Craft & Design

ABROAD

Ctrl/Shift – Sleaford, United Kingdom
Across the pond, Ctrl/Shift: New Directions in Textile Art is currently on show at the National Centre for Craft & Design. Ctrl/Shift, which features work by browngrotta arts artist Caroline Bartlett, presents a wide variety of pieces which present how artists transform their pieces through their creative processes. Focusing on shifts, changes and adaptability, the exhibition highlights the impact of innovative contemporary themes, ideas and technologies on textile art.  Click HERE for more information.

El Anatsui: Material Wonder  – London, United Kingdom
El Anatsui’s work is on view at October Gallery in London through the end of April. The exhibition, El Anatsui: Material Wonder, coincides with the largest retrospective of Anatsui’s work,  El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Throughout his influential career, Anatsui has experimented with a variety of mediums, including cement, ceramics, tropical hardwood corrugated iron, and bottle-top, to name a few. October Gallery’s exhibition includes a variety of metal wall sculptures accompanied by a series of prints made in collaboration with Factum Arte. Want to see these one-of-a-kind pieces? Head over to October Gallery’s website HERE for visiting information.



Rehearsal, El Anatsui, Aluminum and copper wire, 406 x 465 cm, 2015. Photo Jonathan Greet/October Gallery.

A Considered Place – Drumoak, Scotland
A Considered Place, an upcoming exhibition at Drum Castle in Drumoak, Scotland, will share the work of browngrotta arts artists Jo Barker and Sara Brennan, along with Susan Mowatt, Andrea Walsh and Jane Bustin. The exhibition’s location, Drum Castle, is encircled by late 18th rose gardens and trees from all regions of the 18th century British Empire. Make a day of the outing, starting with a stroll through A Considered Place concluded by a relaxing afternoon wandering around the estate’s grounds. Curious about Drum Castle or A Considered Place, click HERE for more information.

Fendre L’air – Paris, France
In Paris, Jiro Yonezawa is among artists featured in Fendre L’air, an elegant exhibition of bamboo basketry at the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Fendre L’air is the first French exhibition to pay homage to the exquisite craft and creativity of Japanese basket makers. Composed of 160 works, the exhibition delves into the art and history of Japanese basketry. Japanese basketry, which we have discussed in length across many blog posts, grew in popularity during the Meiji era as the revival of a certain type of tea ceremony in which bamboo baskets and containers were used for flower arrangments. As creativity has flourished, baskets have become less utilitarian and more decorative. Today, the work of many Japanese basket makers is so impactful, that the artists themselves have become living national treasures. Click HERE or more information on  Fendre L’air.


Certainty / Entropy (Peranakan 2), Aiko Tezuka, h27 x w76 x b71.5 cm, 2014. Loan:
Aiko Tezuka/Galerie Michael Janssen. Photo:
Edward Hendricks

Cultural Threads – Tilburg, Netherlands
If you happen to be in the Netherlands in upcoming months make sure to check out  Cultural Threads at the Textiel Museum in Tilburg. Featuring work by Eylem Aladogan, Célio Braga, Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Mary Sibande, Fiona Tan, Jennifer Tee, Aiko Tezuka and Vincent Vulsma, the exhibition focuses on textiles as  a tool for socio-political reflection. “We live in a world where boundaries between countries and people are becoming increasingly blurred, power relations are shifting radically and cultures are mixing,” states the Textiel Museum. As a medium, the unique qualities of textiles provide artists with a plethora of ways to communicate and explore identity in a globalizing world.  Find more information on the Cultural Threads HERE.  

Artapestry V – Arad, Romania
Gudrun Pagter’s work in Artapestry V is making its final appearance in Romania at the Arad Art Museum as the traveling international exhibition comes to a close. The exhibition, which has traveled across Europe, stopping in Denmark, Sweden and Lativa, features the work of artists from 12 European countries. Presented by the European Tapestry forum,  Artapestry V aims to raise the profile of tapestry as an art form and conjure artistic interest in the medium. Find more information on the European Tapestry Forum’s website HERE.

UNITED STATES

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Photo:Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials – New York, NY  
The current Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibition, The art of Defiance: Radical Materials, examines how artists such as Barbara Chase-Riboud, Betye Saar, Hannelore Baron, Nancy Grossman have utilized unique, groundbreaking materials in their work. For the exhibition, each artist utilized materials defined by their physicality, “representing a freedom from the constraints of traditional, male-dominated media in art history.” Each artists’ work blurred the traditional boundaries between two and three-dimensional design, which in turn has expanded the traditional categorical defines of art-making. In New York and want to check out the exhibition, visit the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery website HERE.

Casting Shadows, Janice Lessman-Moss, Silk, linen
Digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp and weft, 2017. Photo: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The Empathy of Patience  – San Luis Obispo, CA
Traveling to the West Coast in the next week? Don’t miss out on a chance to see Michael F. Rohde’s solo exhibition, The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The exhibition is a superb display of Rohdes’ subliminal texture and masterful interaction of light and color. For Rohdes, “the  medium of handwoven tapestry certainly requires patience for execution…empathy, compassion and concern for others is at the base of many of these weavings.” Click HERE for more information on The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV – San Jose, CA
Three hours north of The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Focusing on artists who merge fiber media with new information and communication technologies, the exhibition sheds a light on browngrotta arts’ artist Lia Cook’s exploratory pieces. Considering its’ close proximity to Silicon Valley, the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV introduces artists exploring the intersection of fiber and technology to the international community. More information on the exhibition can be found HERE


Sue Lawty Visits Anni Albers at the Tate Modern

‘Our tactile experiences are elemental’  

I was eleven when On Weaving was first published. I was making dens in the woods and wondering what I’d be when I grew up. 

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. (Lawty’s favorite piece in the exhibition.) Photo by Sue Lawty.

 Years later Anni Albers’ seminal book was to become pivotal in the development of my teaching and thinking. I actually bought it in 1983 from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, $8.95, black and white, paperback. Yet it wasn’t the images that first grabbed me, but the four pages of chapter eight: Tactile Sensibility. The phrase “tactile sensibility” was new to me, and even if in my fingertips I knew there was such a thing, I’d never heard it named before and given a serious discourse. 

11sl LEAD V Sue Lawty, lead warp and weft, hand woven & beaten, 24″ x 18″ x 1.5″, 61cm x 48cm x 4cm, 2009

Of course, many important influences shape us as we carve our creative journey, not least Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen’s groundbreaking publication and the first art book I ever bought. However, it was Anni Albers’ rigorous unpicking of the intrinsic relationship between the structure of weaving and the fibers chosen that fired a key part of my working ethos; as she put it  “…the inner structure together with its effects on the outside …the engineering task of building up a fabric …developing the vocabulary of tactile language.” read her words over and over and used them in teaching alongside practical workshops informed by her open, questioning approach. I still do.

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. Photo by Sue Lawty

Visiting the fabulous Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern in late 2018, I was struck by how rhythm, repetition, a monochromatic/ limited color palette and the austerity of working with the least number of elements, are all essential elements in both our creative outputs. 

Sue Lawty
December 31, 2018


Art in situ – Helena Hernmarck at the Aldrich Museum through January 13, 2019

Helena Hernmarck describes the yarn she sources from Sweden at the opening of Helena Hernmarck: Weaving in Progress. Photo by Tom Grotta, courtesy browngrotta arts

A unique view into Helena Hernmarck’s artistic practice is on exhibit at the Aldrich Museum up the road from us in Ridgefield, Connecticut for four more weeks. In addition to showing 20 tapestries created over 40 years by Hernmarck, the Museum has replicated a wall of her studio with a large photograph, installed one of the artist’s smaller looms and invited her and her assistant, Mae Coburn, to complete a weaving onsite. We were at the well-attended opening of the exhibition and particularly appreciated the portion of the exhibit that illustrates her process – from inspiration to drawing to yarn selection to final work. As the Museum describes it: “An inventory of the wool used in the process will be on view, along with a display of materials from the artist’s archive, including photographs, watercolors, drawings, prototype samples, and other ephemera that illustrate and inform Hernmarck’s process and the evolution of her career.”

Process documents–inspiration, drawings, color swatches — preparation for a Hernmarck tapestry. Photo by Tom Grotta, courtesy browngrotta arts

In creating a work, Hernmarck plots the amount of weaving she needs to complete each day on graph paper. She told CT Post in October that when first learning to weave, she knew she wanted to create large-scale works. “I decided that if I could weave one square meter a week, I could live on it. And it’s almost true. I made it coarser [using multiple strands] so I could go faster,” she told the newspaper. That bundling has set Hernmarck’s work apart. “Depending on how she twists the strands and what colors and thicknesses she chooses, she is said to be able to give her tapestries unprecedented depth and complexity. One critical essay described them as almost pointillist,” wrote Joel Lang, “Ridgefield weaver Helena Hernmarck and her loom preside over Aldrich exhibit,” CT Post, October 18, 2018.

Exhibition view from Helena Hernmarck: Weaving in Progress, at the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT. Photo by Tom Grotta, courtesy browngrotta arts.

Working at the Museum three to four days in a row has required a slight change in approach, Hernmarck says. “It is fun that so many are coming,” including textile enthusiasts and art classes, but hard to get the weaving done as planned while answering all the questions.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see Hernmarck’s art creation in action. The Aldrich is at 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877, Tel 203.438.4519; general@aldrichart.org.

The in-residence days are:
November: 23, 24, 28, 29, 30
December: 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29
January: 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12

Women Artists Take on Heavy Metal

Mary Giles Lead Relief Detail

Mary Giles, Lead Relief Detail

The National Museum of Women in the Art’s new exhibition Heavy Metal comes to an end this Sunday, September 16th. Heavy Metal is the fifth installment of the NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, which seeks to increase the visibility of female artists who are working in innovative ways within a wide variety of creative communities.

Why metal? Well, because “metal is a material that is typically associated with the work of men,” points out associate curator Ginny Treanor. Metal is “a material that often requires physical strength and endurance to bend, shape and mold.” Nonetheless, women have a long history of working with metal. Additionally, metal is indispensable to our everyday lives, it holds up the buildings we live and work in, forms the frame of the cars we drive every day and adorns our bodies.

Life had turned around Detail by Carole Fréve

Life had turned around Detail by Carole Fréve

Women artists who work with browngrotta arts work in all manners of metal, including bronze, copper, steel and titanium. Kyoko Kumai is one of many browngrotta arts artists that use metal as their material. In making Blue/Green as a metaphor Kumai combined titanium tapes and stainless steel fibers to create a metal weaving. Kumai prefers using these materials because of their light, fade-resistant and hard properties which allows them to retain the image she gives them for many years.

Mary Giles preferred working with metals is because of their varying physical properties. Giles used a variety of metals in her work, including copper, tinned copper, iron, lead and brass. The malleability of these metals when heated allowed Giles to not only alter their shape but their color. Giles was able to alter the blend colors from dark to brights, which enabled her to recreate the natural gradients which she was seeing in real life.

Nancy Koenigsberg Current, coated copper wire

Nancy Koenigsberg, Current, coated copper wire

Metalworking has long been a family affair for Canadian artist Carol Fréve. Fréve followed in the steps of her grandfather, a blacksmith in Quebec in the early 1900s who forged shoes for the horses that pulled copper from mines. Over the years, Fréve has taken the traditional skills and methods her grandfather once used and experimented with them to create her own artistic process. When creating one of her wire sculptures, Fréve electro forms her copper wire knittings so they have a three-dimensional shape.

Linked copper and stainless steel wire are the materials of choice for sculptor
Tsuruko Tanikawa and weaver Nancy Koenigsberg. When placed in light, the lace-like layers of wire in Koenigsberg’s Solitary Path, create an array of shadows and space. The open, yet connected nature, of the metals aid Tanikawa and Koenigsberg in exploring space, shade and light. “I  am interested both in a part in light and in a part in shadow,” explains Tanikawa.“The shape of my work is made by deleting a part from a complete form.”

Tamiko Kawata White City, saftey pins, acrylic on canvas

Tamiko Kawata, White City, saftey pins, acrylic on canvas

Artist Tamiko Kawata collects discarded metal materials, such as safety pins, when creating her assemblage inspired pieces. Kawata’s use of discarded safety pins as her sole material elevates the pins’ “prosaic object-roles and endows them with elegance and grandeur.” Just as Kawata breaks the utilitarian role of safety pins by using them as a material to create fine art, women are altering the masculine narrative associated with metalworking.

Heavy Metal will be on display at NMWA through Sunday, September 16th. For more information on the exhibition and the museum’s hours of operation click HERE.


Behind the Scenes: Drop Off at Helena Hernmarck’s

We recently took a trip up to Helena Hernmarck’s studio to loan back a few pieces for her upcoming solo exhibition Helena Hernmarck: Weaving In Progress at the Aldrich Museum. Located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Helena’s studio is only a few miles from browngrotta arts.

A perfectly organized wall of color expands the entire length of the south side of Hernmarck’s studio. The wall acts as a storage for skeins of wool Hernmarck uses in her tapestries. The different skeins are precisely organized by their unique colors and tones, making it easier for Hernmarck to find a specific color when needed. Hernmarck is very particular about the quality of the materials she uses in her work. All the wool she uses is
rya wool, sourced from a specific breed of heirloom sheep in Sweden. The wool is also custom-dyed and spun to her specifications at a family-run spinning mill in Sweden, the place Hernmarck called home before emigrating to Canada, the UK and then settling in the US. Hernmarck has worked with browngrotta arts for more than 20 years, her work is included in 11 of browngrotta arts’ catalogs, including Helena Hernmarck and Markku Kosonen from 1994. Her commissions are found in dozens of corporations, museums and private collections.

Watching Hernmarck work leaves one in awe. Using a technique of her own invention, she is able to conjure details from our visual world, such as sunlight on waters and sails swelling in the wind. Every one of Hernmarck’s tapestries begin with an image, which is then blown up into her desired weaving size. From there, Hermarck plots her working plan on graph paper and produces a certain number of linear inches or feet per day so her commissions are completed on time. This technique allows Hermarck to capture even the smallest details in her weavings. Hernmarck’s attention to detail and her ability to portray subtle color variations, reflections and shadows are extraordinary. From a distance, Hermarck’s weavings look as if they are a single printed blown up photograph. On closer inspection, however, the thousands of strings of wool dissolve into interlaced pieces of warp and weft.


While visiting her studio, we also discussed her upcoming solo exhibition at the Aldrich Museum. Hernmarck never expected the Aldrich Museum’s invitation. “I did not expect to hear from them, after 38 years in town,” explains Hernmarck. “It was so positive that they were interested to show a textile artist in action. Things are changing…”Textiles have gained tremendous notoriety in the art world in recent years. Collectors, museums and art-lovers are becoming more aware of their allure.

Weaving In Progress will be the first solo exhibition of Hernmarck’s work in the United States since 2012. Given that the Aldrich is in Hernmarck’s hometown makes the exhibition all the more special. To be recognized for her accomplishments there is significant for Hernmarck. “It has been said that you can never be a prophet in your own land,” she explains.

In addition to presenting a variety of her work, Hernmarck herself will also be a part of the exhibition. During the exhibition, Hernmarck and her assistant Mae Colburn will create a work in situ, weaving three days a week in the exhibition space. The final work will be 55 inches wide and 40 inches tall, created on a five-foot-wide loom.“My assistant will be weaving with me as she is still in the learning curve,” Hernmarck says. Hernmarck’s aim for the exhibition is simple and direct. She hopes that “visitors will be inspired to do things with their hands and to get away from their computers” in this increasingly technology-focused world.


Art Out and About: Abroad

From the 11th International Shibori Symposium in Japan to Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz in Poland, these international summer exhibitions are not to be missed:

11th International Shibori Symposium Nagoya, Japan

The 11th International Shibori Symposium will take place throughout June and July in three separate, yet connected regions of Japan: Tokyo, Nagoya, Yonezawa and Yamagata. The symposium will explore the regions shared legacies of craft and local industry revolving around Safflower, Indigo and Shibori. In addition to workshops and demonstrations, the symposium specially organized ten exhibitions chronicling the history and future of shibori. browngrotta arts artist Carolina Yrarrázaval’s work has been selected to be a part of International Contemporary Art of Shibori at the Tama Art University Museum in Tokyo (July 1 – August 19). This year’s topics of discussion include local industry, technology and tradition, global trade and material transformation. “Local industries create foundations for the community and environment which we build textile practices,” explains the World Shibori Network by “emphasizing sustainability, regional history and people and their skills, we showcase the enduring legacy of artisans and craftspeople who support traditions and inspire future generations.” For more information on the 11th International Shibori Symposium click HERE.

One of Jane Balsgaard's sculptures in SKIBET OG BØLGEN. Photo: Jane Balsgaard

One of Jane Balsgaard’s sculptures in SKIBET OG BØLGEN. Photo: Jane Balsgaard

Jane Balsgaard: SKIBET OG BØLGEN at Kunsthuset Palæfløjen.

In Denmark, Jane Balsgaard has a new solo exhibition at Kunsthuset Palæfløjen. The exhibition’s theme revolves around the ship as an artifact with free interpretation of ships, the sea and waves. SKIBET OG BØLGEN highlights Balsgaard’s unique technique and impeccable craftsmanship. Balsgaard’s use of natural materials, such as handmade paper and found objects has made her a pioneer in the Danish Art Scene. In addition to displaying many of Balsgaard’s pieces, there is also a documentary by Torben Glarbo, in which you can see the production Silent Flight, Balsgaards installation in the Manchester Airport.SKIBET OG BØLGEN will run through June 24th, for more information on this exhibition click HERE.

Tim Johnson's Lines and Fragments

Tim Johnson’s Lines and Fragments. Photo: Tim Johnson

 

Jun Tomita at Johanniterkirche in Feldkirch, Austria (September 14th, 2018 – Sometime in December depending on temperature)

Feldkirch, Austria will be the site of a one-person exhibition of ikat works by Jun Tomita in Japan. For more information of Johanniterkirche and Feldkirch click HERE.

Tim Johnson’s Lines and Fragments at Korbmacher-Museum Dalhausen

In Germany, the Korbacher-Museum Dalhausen will be hosting Tim Johnson’s solo exhibition Lines and Fragments. Johnson, who uses a variety of plant materials from his adopted home of Catalonia, combines the specific characteristics of the plant materials with different weaving techniques, both traditional and experimental, in order create endless possibilities for creativity and expression. Line and Fragments will display Johnson’s recent work, while also exploring his 20 years of braiding research. “As a basketmaker working today I look towards combining tradition and experimentation to lead me into new areas. Looking at traditional woven objects in museums and collections we find only part of the story of the making and are left to imagine the life of the object ourselves,” explains Johnson. “The rightness of design and signs of usage in old traditional baskets fascinate me and I hope to capture some of their magic in my own makings. While I’m neither a fisherman nor a farmer and my baskets are not functional, perhaps my work celebrates our woven cultural inheritance whilst creating something that has not existed before.” In the past, the museum has hosted strong exhibitions of traditional basketry work from Spain, Uganda and France. Johnson’s exhibition will be the first contemporary show the museum has ever done. Lines and Fragments will be on display at the Korbacher-Museum Dalhausen from July 15th until September 9th, after which it will travel to Lichtenfels in southern Germany. For more information on Lines and Fragments click HERE.

Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz at The Central Museum of Textiles in Łódź, Poland. Photo: The Central Museum of Textiles

Metamorfizm. Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) in Łódź, Poland

In Łódź, Poland, The Central Museum of Textiles and the Swiss Toms Pauli Foundation opened a collaborative exhibition to pay tribute to Magdalena Abakanowicz. Metamorfizm Magdalena Abakanowicz, which is set to run from May 17th through September 9th, seeks to shed a light on how Abakanowicz revolutionized the field of textile art. Abakanowicz’s international career started in Lausanne at the city’s first Tapestry Biennial in 1962. The exhibition has about thirty pieces of Abakanowicz’s work, ranging from mural creations, sculptures in relief and unusual collages. All of which celebrate the diversity and modernity of Abakanowicz’s artistic experimentation from 1965 to 1985. In addition to Abakanowicz’s work, there will be a screening of Kazimierz Mucha’s movie, accompanied by music composed by Bogusław Schäffer. Mucha’s movie footage examines Abakanowicz’s 1968 open-air art installation in Łeb. The installation’s organic material ’Abakans’ “surrender to the gusts of wind, move and integrate into the surrounding landscape of the wild dunes, accentuating their biological provenance.” Metamorfizm not only spotlights Abakanowicz’s work but also calls attention to the intellectual sources of Abakanowicz’s work. For more information on Metamorfizm click HERE.