Category: Uncategorized

Year in Review  — 2021 by the Numbers

We had a busy year in 2021. Here are some of the details, quantified.

Catalog Pages
Adaptation: artists respond to change and Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences catalogs
gallery visitors
Exhibition visitors
online platforms

online platforms

social media
social media
blogs
arttextstyle blog
Museum Acquisitions
The The Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum; The Minneapolis Museum of Art; The Warehouse Museum
corporate acquisitions
Neha Puri Dhir, Unseen, 2016
Art-in-Embassies
3 large Mary Merkel-Hess Baskets
bag videos
Juried Exhibitions
International Fiber Arts X – Surface Design Association

Next year is shaping up to be just as busy. We are scheduling two in-person exhibitions and accompanying catalogs, videos and online walkthroughs. And this year, we are adding a book, scheduled for Spring publication. Also, coming soon on browngrotta arts’ website: Viewing Rooms. More news to come. Watch this space in 2022!


Pantone Color(s) of the Year — Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (Yellow)

For more than 20 years, Pantone has been choosing a color of the year. For 2021, however, the color influencer has chosen harmony over singularity. The color for 2021 is two colors, Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating — soft gray and citron yellow reflecting strength and positivity, practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2021. “No one color could get across the meaning of the moment,” Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, told the New York Times. “We all realized we cannot do this alone. We all have a deeper understanding of how we need each other and emotional support and hope.” 

To celebrate the pairing, we present a selection of art works that feature gray and yellow. 

65mg Silver Figure
Mary Giles
waxed linen, silver wire
24″ x 4.5″, 1999
36sb Gray Line with Yellow II,
Sara Brennan
linen, cotton and wools
41.5″ x 36″, 2007
5mb Gold Laugh
Micheline Beauchemin,
 metallic and acrylic thread, cotton
25.25” x 21.25” x 2.25”, 1980-85
4lw Winter, Fornebu
Løvass & Wagle
rainware, nylon stockings
45″ x 45″, 1999
47es Footprints on the Dunes
Ethel Stein
mercerized cotton, damask
31.25” x 35.25” x 1.5”, 2011
16cht Blue Threads and Yellow Stripes
Chiyoko Tanaka
handwoven ground fabric
12.5” x 26”, 1990

According to the Pantone Color Institute, “the two offer a combination of color whose ties to insight, innovation and intuition, and respect for wisdom, experience, and intelligence inspires regeneration, pressing us forward toward new ways of thinking and concepts. Emboldening the spirit, the pairing of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating highlights our innate need to be seen, to be visible, to be recognized, to have our voices heard.”


Artist Focus: Chiyoko Tanaka

We are adding a new feature to our social media lineup periodically, an Artist Focus. Our first artist spotlight is on Chiyoko Tanaka, who celebrated her birthday on January 1st. 

Portrait of Chiyoko Tanaka with Hiroyuki Shindo
Chiyoko Tanaka on the right, Hiroyuki Shindo’s wife on the left and Hiroyuki Shindo in the center at browngrotta arts in 1996. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We have been honored to exhibit the work of Chiyoko Tanaka since 1996, when we were pleased to host Sheila Hicks Joined by Seven Artists from Japan

Time is essential in Tanaka’s work. After weaving works on an obi loom, she agrees them with mud and stone, brick and clay. Portions of the work are deliberately worn away as an actual and metaphorical representation of time, or “weaving time into space,” as she describes it. She works in various series — Mud-Dyed Cloth, Grinded Fabrics and Printed & Grinded Fabrics.

Grinded Fabric-Three Squares Blue Threads and Blue #689 by Chiyoko Tanaka
Grinded Fabric-Three Squares Blue Threads and Blue #689Chiyoko Tanaka, handwoven, ground fabric (raw linen, ramie)-rubbed with white stone, pencil drawing, 19.25″ x 44.25″ x 2.25″, 2005, Photo by Tom Grotta

“Placing the fabric on the ground, I trace out the ground texture and surface of the fabric,” Tanaka explains. “The final color of the surface is not so important, more the effect achieved by the application of a certain soil, charcoal or choice of tool which helped translate the texture of the ground more readily into my ‘canvas.’ The true past tense of the verb to grind, ‘ground,’ also implies the earth, which can be used to embed, implant, erode and emboss its own surface into my work.” 

Detail  of Mud-Dyed Cloth - Mud Dots on Brown Stripes #742 by Chiyoko Tanaka
Detail – Mud-Dyed Cloth – Mud Dots on Brown Stripes #742, Chiyoko Tanaka, handwoven, mud- dyed fabric (raw linen, ramie), 21″ x 44″ x 1.5″, 2009, Photo by Tom Grotta

Tanaka’s work has been exhibited throughout the world: Europe, England, Australia, Israel and the US. It is included in the public collections at 

Permeated Black Stain #941  by Chiyoko Tanaka
Permeated Black Stain #941, Chiyoko Tanaka, handwoven, black dyed Korean ramie, black stain, and rubbed with stone on the reverse side, 18″ x 32.25″, 1999-2001. Photo by Tom Grotta

Museum of Arts and Crafts Hamburg, Germany; Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Passage de Retz, Paris, France; Kyoto City University of Arts, Japan; Central Museum of Textiles, Lodz, Poland. She was one of the artists featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the seminal exhibition, Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles  and in traveling exhibition, Texture & Influence, curated by Lesley Millar, for the University of the Creative Arts in the UK. She is among the artists profiled in the award-winning video, Textile Magicians


Objects of Desire – Artful Gifts Under $2500

Here’s another selection of singular art works by prestigious artworks from the US, Europe, Asia and Israel.

By the Sea, Polly Barton, silk, double ikat, 17.5” x 16.5” x 2”, 2019.
Photo by Tom Grotta

Polly Barton’s woven ikat “paintigs” like By the Sea, are influenced by geography. Barton was born and raised in the Northeast, trained to weave in Japan, and has lived most of her life in the American Southwest. Her work reflects these disparate locales. 

Enfold, Jennifer Falck Linssen, handcrafted vessel of katagami-style handcarved paper. Materials include archival cotton paper, aluminum, waxed linen, paint, varnish, freshwater pearl, and sterling silver, 5.5″ x 20″ x 3″, 2008.
Photo by Tom Grotta

In Jennifer Falck Linssen’ elegant vessel, Enfoldthe Japanese stencil (katagami) has been recontextualized. Linssen explore the stencil’s sculptural possibilities, combining carving, stitching and metalwork. She starts with a series of sketches, exploring and refining the form, pattern, and identity of the piece. In the sculpture’s final state, it is dyed, painted patinaed, and varnished. Linssen, who also studied in Japan, now lives and works in Wisconsin.

Traces 4 Relief, Mia Olsson, sisal and coconut fiber, acrylic glass, sisal on blastered acrylic glass, 14″ x 11.875″ x 1.25″, 2006.
Photo by Tom Grotta

Mia Olsson’s pieces, like Traces 4 Reliefare made of sisal fibers, dyed and formed in a technique of her own. The sisal fibers used by the Swedish artist are shiny and reflect the light, even more when formed in relief. The colors are richly saturated — engaging the viewer on each viewing.

At Grands Montets, Naomi Kobayashi, kayori thread, paper & wood, 31.5” x 11” x 2”, 2008. Photo by Tom Grotta

In At Grand MontetsNaomi Kobayahsi presents a framed paper-and-thread construction. Well-known Japanese artist Kobayashi is known for such sculptures that are generally much larger, filling a wall as panels or a ceiling in a circular shape. With At Grand Montets, the viewer can appreciate the light and stillness that are highlighted in her work, on a smaller scale. 

Red Dress, Gali Cnaani, copper, cotton, 21.75″ x 14″, 2006
Photo by Tom Grotta

A whimsical Red Dress of red copper threads is the creation of Gali Cnaani of Israel. Cnaani is interested in the linear structure of textiles and in exploring the light and its affects on the exposed copper threads.

The fine print: Order today and we’ll ship by tomorrow (though due to COVID we can’t guarantee the shippers’ delivery schedule). If you’d like us to gift wrap your purchase, email us at art@browngrotta.com, as soon as you have placed your order. To ensure we know you want gift wrapping, don’t wait to contact us — we generally ship as soon as the orders are received. Quantities are limited.


The Artful Gift Guide: 5 Under $2000

If you have reached those people on your list who have everything, and you are still stumped, we may be able to help you out. Below is a select grouping of objects and wall art from accomplished artists around the world. We guarantee there’s a one-of-kind choice here for anyone aesthetically oriented.

Little Star, willow, beeswax, damar resin, 10” x 8” x 6”, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Little StarChristine Joy’s willow sphere without beginning or end, evokes the eternal and nature in a single object. Joy, a Montana artist,constructs her sculptures to appear as if they are moving, growing and animated, as though the shapes had been cut from a tree or pulled from moving water. “I want them to sit still,” she says, “unchanging, yet to the eye of the viewer to flow, to move around and back again, to carry the movement of life.” 

Existence, Naoko Serino, Jute, 8.5″ x 7.75″ x 8.5″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

Japanese artist, Naoko Serino, works in jute, a remarkably adaptable material that provokes references to biological structures. Serino’s three-dimensional sculptures, like Existence, encapsulate light and air, appearing deceptively fragile. Her work that exudes a comfortable energy, always in balance with its surroundings.

Photoatelier #10, Irina Kolesnikova, flax, silk, hand woven, 15.5″ x 11.75″; 20″ x 16″, frame, 2004. Photo by Tom Grotta

A paradoxical combination of contemporary art language and ancient handweaving technique is evident in the work of Irina Kolineskova who has emigrated from Russia to Germany. I like old, black-and-white photos very much,” she says,”and I play with images from these pictures, using silhouettes, details of dress, signs of a profession. I make collage and then replicate collage in woven technique.”

Four Tier Curly Birch Wood Bowl, Markku Kosonen, curly birch, 10.5″ x 10″ x 11″, 2001. Photo by Tom Grotta

Wood was integral to the artistic practice of the late Markku Kosonen of Finland who created this ingenious Four-Tier Curly Birch Bowl. An important aspect of his work was the ability to express things; craftsmanship alone was not enough. “What begins as an ordinary utilitarian object soon turns into a creative work” he said. “The purpose of work such as this is to appeal to one’s emotions. For me, arts and crafts entail a spiritual processing of material, linking humanism to objects.”

Color Grid, Marian Bijlenga, korean bojagi, horsehair and fabric , 22″ x 20″, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Marian Bijlenga of the Netherlands has a fascination with dots, lines and contours that is evident in artworks like, Color GridRather than draw on paper, she draws in space, using textile as a material and leaves enough distance between the structure and its aligning wall to create what she refers to as a “spatial drawing.”

The fine print: Order for the holidays by December 14th and we’ll ship by the 15th (though due to COVID we can’t guarantee the shippers’ delivery schedule). If you’d like us to gift wrap your purchase, email us at art@browngrotta.com, as soon as you have placed your order. To ensure we know you want gift wrapping, don’t wait to contact us — we generally ship as soon as the orders are received. Quantities are limited.


The Artful Gift Guide: 5 under $900

Five carefully curated gift ideas from $600 to $900 to gladden your every day. Artists from the US, the UK and Japan have created a range of inspiring items to please you or those on your gift list.

Construction III, Pat Campbell
32pc Construction III, Pat Campbell
rice paper, reed,  
8″ x 7.5″ x 5.5″, 2002
$600

Pat Campbell’s work, which has been featured in the Lausanne Biennial, is influenced by the Japanese shoji screen, traditionally made of rice paper. “Paper is exciting to work with. It is a fragile material that can be easily ripped or torn,” Campbell says.”It is a natural choice of material for my work. It provides the translucency I am seeking in constructions.” Campbell says. The graceful and symmetrical paper and reed objects that result, like Constructions III,  have a sculptural presence enhanced by the interplay of shadows.
Red Jakago by Nancy Moore Bess
73nmb Red Jakago, Nancy Moore Bess
dyed kilm-dried Japanese bamboo, 3.25″ x 12.5″ x 3.25″, 2007
$600

California basketmaker Nancy Moore Bess works in bamboo, which she studied in Japan, Hawaii and New York. She often creates baskets within baskets, dying the bamboo and waxed linen and cotton, creating forms that are closed and open at the same time. They invite touch and movement and accentuate the beauty and versatility of bamboo. 
Renewal by Marion Hildebrandt
45mh Urban Renewal, Marion Hildebrandt
papertwine, waxed linen twine, CA spice bush branches, bark, leather ties
7.25″ x 5″ x 5″, 2002
$850

The late Marian Hildebrandt created this basket of natural materials that she gathered near her home in Napa Valley, California.
Triangular Dish by Maggie Henton
9207mh Triangular Dish, Maggie Henton
dyed cane and copper wire, 3.75″ x 19″ x 19″, 1992
$850

UK Maggie Henton trained in textiles. Her interest in the structure of weaving and the creation of three- dimensional forms led her to work with cane and making baskets. She found she could dye and weave the cane as easily as a textile fiber, She often mixes found 
materials such as wire and plastic with cane. This weave pattern was developed from the study of South-East Asian weaving techniques. A similar work is found in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
When Green is Gold: Cube connection 14 by Noriko Takamiya
68nt When Green is Gold: Cube connection 14, Noriko Takamiya
paper, 8.5” x 8.5” x 4.5”, 2018
$900

When Green is Gold: Cube connection 14, Takamiya puts a modern twist on traditional Japanese basketmaking methods through her experimentation with weaving techniques. When working on a basket, Takamiya winds hundreds of layers of thin strips of paper around and in between one another until she reaches her desired form. The end result is a three-dimensional, puzzle-like basket.

The small print: Order for the holidays by December 14th and we’ll ship by the 15th (though due to COVID we can’t guarantee the shippers’ delivery schedule). If you’d like us to gift wrap your purchase, email us at art@browngrotta.com, as soon as you have placed your order. To ensure we know you want gift wrapping, don’t wait to contact us — we generally ship as soon as the orders are received. Quantities are limited.


Art Assembled: New This Week August

Even as summer nears to its end, we’re still heating up at browngrotta with all kinds of new artwork. During the month of August, we highlighted a few very talented artists, including: Marianne Kemp, Mary Merkel-Hess, Heidrun Schimmel, James Bassler.

Drifting dialogues by Marianne Kemp
Horsehair weaving: Drifting Dialogues by Marianne Kemp, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta..

Netherlands based artist, Marianne Kemp is known for using unconventional weaving techniques with horsehair – to create works of character that combine texture, color and movement.

Sun Series Mark Merkel-Hess
Sun Series (Orange), Mary Merkel-Hess, 2013. Photo by Mary Merkel-Hess.

This vibrant and striking piece was created by the talented Mary Merkel-Hess. In her creative process, Merkel-Hess is never one to pass up inspiration. In fact, she aims to create a life of constant creativity, and she does this through her work.

Filamente Heidrun Schimmel
Filamente, Heidrun Schimmel, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

German-based artist, Heidrun Schimmel exclusively stitches her works by hand. She is passionate about the connections between thread and time and thread and humanity as they are interwoven into human existence.

Cumbe James Bassler
3jb Cumbe, James Bassler, linen, balance plain weave; discontinuous warp, synthetic and natural dye (indigo); 40 ½” X 40 ½” including natural color linen binding around entire perimeter, 2009 signed back lower left.

Jim Bassler is renowned textile artist whose time in the armed services gave him the opportunity to see the world. That experience introduced Bassler to the craft traditions of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. During Bassler’s travels, the ethnic textiles served as inspiration and a foundation for his work.

Next week, we will be launching our Volume 50 exhibition and catalog. We’re excited to launch, as we know you’re going to love what’s in store – you’ll even be seeing work by familiar artists like James Bassler and Mary Merkel-Hess. The exhibition is open live for safe viewing from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday 12th and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Sunday September 13 – 20th. To reserve your time slot go to eventbrite, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/volume-50-chronicling-fiber-art-for-three-decades-tickets-118242792375 or
to learn about our online Exhibition programming check our calendar at browngrotta.com.


Dispatches: One Month, Three Museums

We don’t get the chance to see art exhibitions in person as often as we’d like. So we were quite pleased last month to be able to grab some museum time between closing our last exhibition, The Grotta Collection and prepping for our annual spring event, Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades.

The banyan tree in front of the Norton, Claus Oldenberg’s sculpture in the background.

We found ourselves first at the Norton Museum of Fine Art in Palm Beach, Florida. The museum has been newly and elegantly renovated. Viewers first see an extraordinary banyan tree incorporated into the entrance. Inside there are exhibitions of the Museum’s permanent collections and a specially commissioned work by Dale Chihuly. We were pleased to see the traveling exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. The exhibition addresses how the artist proclaimed her progressive, independent lifestyle through a self-crafted public persona, using her art, her clothing, and the way she posed for the camera. Early on, she fashioned a signature style of dress — much of which she created herself — that dispensed with ornamentation, which evolved in her years in New York—when a black-and-white palette dominated much of her art and dress—and then her time in New Mexico, where her art and clothing changed in response to the colors of the Southwestern landscape. After locating in the Santa Fe, an amazing array of photographers visited her and solidified her status as a pioneer of modernism and contemporary style icon. In addition to O’Keeffe’s paintings and clothes, the exhibition included photographs of the painter by noted artists Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, and others. You have through February 2, 2020 to see it: https://www.norton.org/exhibitions/georgia-okeeffe-living-modern.

Tom beneath Dale Chihuly’s Sealife Persian Ceiling

Two weeks later we were able to visit the new Westport Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly the Westport Arts Center) to see its inaugural exhibition of two works by remarkable artist Yayoi Kasuma. Part one, Where the Lights in My Heart Go, one of Kasuma’s mirrored boxes, is a work with two distinct characters. While its mirrored exterior both reflects and appears to merge with its surroundings, punctured with small holes it becomes, on the inside, a fathomless space punctuated by dots of daylight.

Inside Yayoi Kasuma’s Where the Lights in My Heart Go at the Westport Museum of Contemporary Art.

Where the Lights in My Heart Go draws parallels with the ritualistic aspect and formality of Japanese culture, MoCA explains. To enter, visitors must bow their heads, humble themselves in preparation for what they are about to experience. As one’s eyes adjust slowly to the play of light across its perforated walls, an ever-changing constellation reveals itself. Kusama has referred to the effect the work produces as a “subtle planetarium” – a space in which to ponder the mysteries of the physical and metaphysical universe. Different for each viewer, Where the Lights in My Heart Go also changes with each fresh experience of it. It is immeasurable yet intimate. Kusama’s art may possess a kind of universal language, but it speaks to us one by one. Our moments inside the artwork were truly magical — we were so pleased to have that experience before it closed.

Nick Cave’s Tondo, from Weather Report at the Aldrich Museum of Art.

Also on exhibit is Kusama’s installation Narcissus Garden which originated in 1966, when the artist first participated, albeit unofficially, in the Venice Biennale. This expansive and immersive work comprises mirrored spheres displayed en masse to create a dynamic reflective field. In Venice, Kusama installed the spheres on a lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion. Signs placed among them were inscribed with the words ‘Narcissus Garden, Kusama’ and ‘Your Narcissism for Sale’. Kusama, dressed in a kimono, remained with the installation, offering individual spheres for sale (at $2, or 1,200 lira a piece). This succès de scandale was both revolutionary – a comment on the promotion of the artist through the media and a critique of the mechanization and commodification of the art market – and deeply connected to history, evoking the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection (and paid the price for doing so). Tom and I found the exhibition so engaging we went right home and watched the documentary about the artist on Amazon Prime: Kusama: Infinity. Narcissus Garden is on view through February 16, 2020 https://mocawestport.org/experiences/.

Eva LeWitt’s Untitled (Mesh A–J),at the Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut

Our last stop was at the Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut. There are three exhibitions there well worth seeing, including a colorful site-specific installation, Untitled (Mesh A-J) by Eva LeWitt. “LeWitt’s sculptural practice explores the visual interconnection of color, matter, shape, light, and gravity. Using materials she can control and manipulate with supporting and opposing attributes – rigid/pliable, opaque/transparent, airy/substantial, and handmade/machine built – LeWitt creates exuberant configurations that vaunt a buoyant physical agency,” says the Museum signage. Zoë Sheehan Saldaña has mounted an exhibition of 50 of her hand-made artifacts, There Must Be Some Kind of Way Out of Here, curated by Glenn Adamson.Even her most elaborate undertakings, such as a reverse-engineered Strike Anywhere match or a hand-woven terrycloth towel, masquerade as objects you might toss away thoughtlessly, or stick in a drawer and forget. Underneath these acts of artistic camouflage lies a deep well of conviction, a drive to take full responsibility for things.”

Weather Study, Jitish Kallat from Weather Report at the the Aldrich Museum of Art.

We were most captivated, however, by Weather Report, a group exhibition curated by Richard Klein. Weather Report brings together that work of 21 artists and three researchers to explore the ways that our immersion is the atmosphere — what can only be considered the most remarkable feature of our planet — has influenced visual culture in the 21st century. The range of ways in which they depict weather phenomena is remarkable. In Fly to Mars 2 by Jennifer Steinkamp the artist has created a video version of the axis mundi, the mythic tree at the center of the universe. Nick Cave created a series of images based on Doppler radar images of cataclysmic weather and brain scans from black youth suffering PTSD from gun violence, presenting gun violence as uncontrollable as a hurricane. In Wind Study, Jitish Kallat has “drawn” with soot, blown by prevailing winds, making a statement about winds and wildfires worldwide.

The exhibitions are all open for a few more months (April, May and March, respectively). From more information, visit the Museum’s website. http://aldrichart.org


Process Notes: Stéphanie Jacques

Studio Installation, Brussels, Belgium, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts
Stéphanie Jacques Studio Visit

Stéphanie Jacques wrote about identity for browngrotta arts’ latest exhibition, art + identity: an international view. Here are Jacques’ thoughts on the topic:

Detail, Ce qu'il en reste
Detail, Ce qu’il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

“At the present time, the notion of identity seems to me to be a dimension in constant movement. I can distinguish, however, one coherent element, a sort of red thread : the desire to assemble all that is scattered. 

“Winter 2015, in my studio notebook, I draw a human face.  A woman’s face.  Tears in the form of feet and hands stream from her eyes. That winter, I continued working on a series of sculptures which will become the work Ce qu’il en reste.  A small human figure stands upright. She is in balance.  Hanging from her pelvis is an assemblage of cubes and parallelepipeds which tumble to the floor. 

Detail, Ce qu'il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts
Detail, Ce qu’il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

“Summer 2016, after 15 years of living in the country, I move to a new studio, in town. There, the first thing I make is a series of monotypes. Inspired by the drawing of the previous winter, this time, I engrave an image of the woman’s face on a sheet of linoleum. With each new print, another face appears. Little by little, an open mouth takes the place of the tears.  Blue…. Red…., on this white paper, like an unconscious trace, areminder of the violence which is spreading throughout Europe at that time.  Violence moreover, which still continues today. This face has something to tell.  

Detail, Ce qu'il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts
Detail, Ce qu’il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

“Applying the coiling technique, I stitch bundles of white thread.  First comes an eye, two eyes, then the mouth, the whole face.  Between my hands, a soft and damaged material takes form. One senses anger. It is the first time I create a human face, a mask. ‘Without a doubt one of the most ancient forms of expression of human culture’ so a book on the subject informs me. On a table, are two looped legs covered in plaster. They will find their place, on top of this head. 

“That summer, I spend hour upon hour sewing, cubes and parallelepipeds made of willow and stitching with waxed linen thread.  Small, medium, large.  Assembled and tinted with India ink, they form a structure into which I may enter.  

Detail, Ce qu'il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts
Detail, Ce qu’il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

“Oh Joy ! I dance in my studio, searching somehow through my movement, a relationship with this form. I set up the camera and take photos. My face is veiled. The frame is fixed. As the shooting advances, a story appears. I decide on four images.  Four attempts at materializing this constant transformation, at bringing life to this form.  A series of portraits follows. This time, sitting on a chair, my appearance is modified by wearing an object, a sculpture. Each image incarnates a new state, another state. 

The process here described is necessary for these images to exist. They are not an end in itself but a document of what has passed.Certain emotions, intuitions, propel me to make certain objects. More and more, I feel the need to record their creative impact and this physical sensation which passes through my body as it is positioned in space and time. It is my way of questioning the identity of these forms.  Using image is a means to make them fall from their pedestal.”

Detail, Ce qu'il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts
Detail, Ce qu’il en reste, photo Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

Stéphanie Jacques
April 2019


Process Notes: Federica Luzzi on the White Shell Series

Federica Luzzi
11fl White Shell Tongue n. 2
fine art print on baryta paper 
78.75” x 32.75” x 1.25,” 2006

9fl White Paper Shell
paper cord
10.5” x 10.5” x 9.5,” 2015
photo by Tom Grotta

Below, we share thoughts from Federica Luzzi about her works, White Shell Tongue, n.2, White Paper Shell and White Shell. The works were featured in browngrotta arts’ recent exhibition, art + identity: an international view.

“From a simple daily gesture, observing the white, knotted shapes just finished and resting on my black, low and Japanese-style lacquered table, White Shell Tongue was born. My mother bought the table many years ago and it has always been a reason of great attraction for me, every object projected far away on it; you have to sit down on the ground to use it. Also, a turquoise silk kimono brought for me by parents from SoHo, New York, when I was 6-7 years old. My father, Mario Luzzi, was an expert and journalist in jazz music, and in the 70s and 80s, my parents’ house in Rome was a continuous coming and going of American and European musicians who also stayed with us — Ornette Coleman, Don Pullen, Muhal Richard Abrams, Max Roach, Noah Howard, Paul Bley e Byard Lancaster.

“Everyone’s dream: to know a foreign (strange) language and yet not to understand it: to grasp the difference in it …” writes Roland Barthes in the beginning of “The language unknown” in The Empire of Signs. Mine is a eulogy to the slowness of the gesture. A pure gesture that leads to the conscious cancellation of the subject, the beginning of that “visual vacillation” of which Barthes speaks when “the text does not comment on the images. The images do not illustrate the text”. A calligraphy whose author disappears taking “in some part of the world (down there) a certain number of ‘traits’ (graphic and linguistic terms) and with these traits deliberately forming a system,”writes Barthes. It is necessary to find a voice and a language that are foreign to themselves; a musical score, whose interpreter will read and imagine in a different way, moving away.

Detail of White Paper Shell
photo by Tom Grotta


From Frascati’s DAPHE particle accelerator, which I had left to create this series of works, I have come to confirm my old intuition: in approaching each other, we do not recognize ourselves in an alien matter. 

Nostalgia is a feeling that I have felt since I was very young for Japan: a country that until a few years ago I had never seen but where I felt I had already been. In 2017, I presented my works for the first time in a solo exhibition, Shell, in Osaka, at the LADS Gallery, which mainly deals with Gutai artists and is directed by Toyoko Hyono San. Everything that I have always imagined of Japan began to take shape deeply, in particular when two of my works, usually exhibited separately, were put together there. The LADS Gallery, with its partially modifiable and openable space with sliding walls, has the possibility of creating a sort of niche that I immediately identified by visualizing the White Shell Tongue fine art print which, due to its vertical disposition, recalled to my mind the paintings or calligraphy on paper or silk, kakemono, displayed in the tokonoma, an intimate space of traditional Japanese houses. A sacred space where I put together my sculptural work made by knotting paper cord resting on a raised wooden structure.

Federica Luzzi
13fl White Shell
knotting technique, cotton cord
15” x 15” x 7.25”, 2018
photo by Tom Grotta

As a woman, I never appear physically in the works, but it is through my body that I touch and look at things, entrusting my story to long and narrow strips of paper as ever-changing languages. But if writing is an act of “dispossession” as Marc Augé makes clear, in my idea of dissemination that void of speech is vibration; small invocations dispersed in the cosmos.