Monthly archives: June, 2021

Women Artists Get Their Due: Learning About Lia Cook

Women didn’t win the vote until 1920. It took another 100 more years, but in the last few, women artists have finally begun to win the comprehensive, worldwide recognition they long deserved. Exhibitions like Women Take the Floor, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Anni Albers and Dora Maar at the Tate Modern in London, Sheila Hicks at the Centre Pompidou and A Tale of Two Women Painters: Sofonisba Anguissola and Lavinia Fontana at the Prado in Spain are just some of the ways female artists are getting their due. 

Bamian by Sheila Hicks (American (lives and works in Paris) 1968, Wool and acrylic yarns, wrapped. Charles Potter Kling Fund and partial gift of Sheila Hicks © Sheila Hicks * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bethany CT. © 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London. Photography: Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

Lia Cook is one of those artists. Receiving critical acclaim from the onset of her career, innovating, experimenting and creating art for nearly five decades, Cook’s recent work in neuroaesthetics in the last decade has gained her a broader audience.  Since the 70s, Cook’s work has promoted a reconsideration of weaving, long-considered women’s work and thus inferior to high or fine art. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Art at UC Berkeley, she joined a group of progressive women in forming Fiberworks Center for Textile Arts. Just out of graduate school, she was issued an invitation to the prestigious Lausanne Biennial in 1973, where she exhibited with fiber art pioneers Magdalena Abakanowicz and Sheila Hicks. Viewers of Cook’s work find craft/fine art distinctions superfluous — a view that has finally taken hold in the art world at large.

space-continuum-1-portrait , Continuum I, exhibited at the 1973 International Biennial of Tapestry, Lausanne, Switzerland

Through July 31st, you have the chance to win an important work from Cook’s early explorations, Spatial Ikat III -2 (1976). The tapestry is a prize in a sweepstakes organized by UncommonGood, a B-corp that helps nonprofits of all sizes expand their reach and do even more good. The sweepstakes prize includes a $7500 prize, a 20-minute Zoom call with the artist and a copy of Lia Cook: In the Folds – Works from 1973 – 1997 (browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2007). The tapestry was donated by browngrotta arts as the latest of our Art for a Cause projects; the cash prize is from UncommonGood. The proceeds from the sweepstakes will go to the Breast Council Alliance https://breastcanceralliance.org which funds innovative research, breast surgery fellowships, regional education, dignified support and screening for the underserved. 

browngrotta arts is thrilled to partner with UncommonGood and Breast Cancer Alliance in this sweepstakes. UncommonGood provides comprehensive software solutions for nonprofit organizations. With these tools, groups like the Breast Cancer Alliance can engage more donors and amplify their reach.

This sweepstakes presents an opportunity to create a new fans for Lia Cook’s work while benefiting a worthy cause in the process. A winning combination!

To enter the sweepstakes: https://uncommongood.io


Art Out and About: Exhibitions Abroad

Things are (happily!) opening up all over. If you are located abroad or planning to travel , there are a number of exciting exhibitions to visit in person and to check out online.

Lookout installation in Spain, Photo by Tim Johnson

Lookout
Mas de Barberans, Spain
An exhibition of the best of European basketmaking, Lookout, has been curated by Monica Guilera and Tim Johnson at the Museu de la Pauma, Mas de Barberans in Catalonia, Spain until September 30, 2021. The collection includes work by Dail Behennah, Mary Butcher and makers from Poland, France, Italy, Crimea and elsewhere. There is a beautifully illustrated 52-page catalogue which you can view online here.

Participation, Archie Brennan, 1977, woven at Dovecot Studios. Image Courtesy of Dovecot Studios

Archie Brennan Goes Pop
Edinburgh, Scotland
The Dovecot Studios in Scotland, is celebrating the extraordinary career of Archie Brennan in Archie Brennan Goes Pop through August 21, 2021. The Studios describe the exhibition as: “Bringing together over 80 tapestries as well as archive material, this is a chance to delve into the world of a master of modern tapestry. Sharp, witty, and immensely talented, Brennan began his 60-year weaving career at Dovecot and was an innovator and iconoclast who inspired weavers all over the world from Papua New Guinea to Australia.” Brennan’s contribution as a pop artist has not been recognized, until now.

Light, Nancy Koenigsberg, coated copper wire, 47″ x 47″ x 8″, 2011, photo by Tom Grotta. Part of the Artapestry6 traveling exhibition. 

ArtTapestry 6
Jyväskylä, Finland
2020’s ArtTapestry finally opened and has begun traveling, opening in Denmark and now installed in Finland and the Museum of Central Finland in Jyväskylä, through September 2022. Next it travels to Sweden. 43 works of 40 artists, from 16 countries were selected. Among the artists included are Gudren Pagter of Denmark, Wlodzimierz Cygan of Poland, Nancy Koenigsberg of the US and Helena Hernmarck, originally from Sweden but now of the US. For more information and to see the catalog, visit here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e55552503aff02749460670/t/602e819c27e2076281e2ef40/1613660584707/Artapestry6_catalog_2021.pdf

Sheila Hicks: Cosmic Arrivals
Milan, Italy
The Francesca Minini gallery opened an exhibition of Sheila Hick’s work last week in Milan. Sheila Hicks: Cosmic Arrivals runs until July 17, 2021 (http://www.francescaminini.it/exhibition). The gallery quotes Hicks in its press release, “Nature determines everything. Climate and light influence space. Each of my works inhabits in a particular place, respects its history, its temperature, its architecture.” Fibers are unmade and recreated in her hands, according to the release. Cloth is thus the cornerstone of a way of thinking that was developed under the influence of her mentor [Josef] Albers and continued through the search for a new construction of color and the reuse of textile fibers, often considered functional or decorative.

MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Exhibition, Photo by JSouteyrat courtesy of the Japan House London

Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko
London, UK
Japan House in London hosts an extraordinary exhibition, Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko, showcasing the innovative work of Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko. Sudō is renowned for pushing boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing. She has been the design director of leading textile design firm Nuno for over 30 years and is a member of the Japan Design Committee. Her fabric designs combine Japanese craft traditions with new engineering techniques and unusual combinations of diverse materials such as silk, hand-made washi (Japanese paper), nylon tape and thermoplastic. Through July 11, 2021: https://www.japanhouselondon.uk/whats-on/2021/exhibition-making-nuno-japanese-textile-innovation-from-sudo-reiko/.

Textilés
Mons, France
BeCraft in collaboration with the City of Mons and Les Drapiers, Contemporary Art Center (Liège) has installed a provocative exhibit, Textilés through August 1, 2021. www.becraft.org

Happy travels!


Artist Focus: Carolina Yrarrázaval

Carolina Yrarrázaval portrait
Carolina Yrarrázaval portrait by Tom Grotta

Strength and refinement are words used by those who review or just experience Carolina Yrarrázaval’s elegant tapestries. For a 2003 solo exhibition at the Chilean Museum of Fine Art in Santiago, Sheila Hicks wrote of her works: “Somber steps/weaving dignity/without digression/relentless ascent/rigorous denial/without shame.” Yrarrázaval’s work features a formal and chromatic purity, achieved through the use of colors achieved through a personal dyeing process.

Tapestries by Carolina Yrarrázaval
Tapestries by Carolina Yrarrázaval. Photo by Tom Grotta

There are multiple influences reflected in Yrarrázaval’s work. A solo exhibition, Capas de Recuerdos, at the Centro Cultural Las Condes in 2019, was entitled Layer of Memories, reflecting the layers of weaving, years of research and volumes of textures that feature in her work. Yrarrázaval draws on different manifestations and cultures, from pre-Hispanic geometry to the subtlety and mystery of Japanese textiles. 

Detail of  Memoria Andina
Detail of Memoria Andina, Carolina Yrarrázaval, linen and cotton, 54.25″ x 25.25″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

For example, she lives on the Chilean coast and that environment infuses her work, which features blue greens, wavy lines and iridescent threads that reflect the colors of the beach and lines of the ocean and the horizon. She has traveled to India and Japan and cites costumes she saw there as another influence, evident in deep reds and indigos. She works in linen, jute, cotton, silk, raffia and hemp.

Amazonas, Carolina Yrarrázaval
17jy Amazonas, Carolina Yrarrázaval, yute, jute, raffia and silk, 35.5” x 39.25”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Traditional textiles are still another source of influence for Yrarrázaval. “Throughout my entire artistic career I have devoted myself to investigating traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques, trying to adapt them to my creative needs. Abstraction has always been present as an aesthetic aim, informing my choice of materials, forms, textures and colors. The simple proportions are guided by an intuitive sense that avoids the use of mathematical formulas.”