Category: Sculpture

Material Matters: Kibiso Silk

Detail of Kiyomi Iwata's Southern Crossing Three
Detail: Kiyomi Iwata’s Southern Crossing Three, woven kibiso and paint, 55” x 108”, 2014. Photo by tom Grotta

Material Matters: Kibiso, Japanese Silk

This is another installment in our series of information on materials used by artists who work with browngrotta arts including horsehair, agave and today, kibiso silk.

Kibiso refers to silk drawn from the outer layer of the silk cocoon, considered “waste” in compared to the smooth filament that makes up the inner cocoon. This thick cocoon layer is also called choshi in Japan, frison in the USA, knubbs in Great Britain, sarnak in India, frissonette in France, and strusa in Italy. In the past, it had been discarded as too tough to loom.

Since 2008, NUNO, the innovative Japanese textile firm, has focused on the use of kibiso. Working with elderly women in Tsuruoka, one of Japan’s last silk-weaving towns, NUNO started a kibiso hand-weaving project. These women set up looms in their garages and kitchens for extra family income, and made woven bags out of the thick, stiff kibiso yarn, as well as handknit hats. NUNO has refined kibiso down to a thickness that allows automatic machine looming, resulting in a whole line of new fabrics, most of which have normal silk warps and kibiso wefts. As part of an effort to revitalize Japan’s once-booming silk trade, NUNO’s head designer, Reiko Sudo, also works with the Tsuruoka Fabric Industry Cooperative on a variety of products under the “kibiso” label.

The fiber is water repellent and UV resistant. Machine-made kibiso yarn was originally produced in Yokohama, writes the Cooper-Hewitt, the center of silk exportation in Japan between the 1860s until the 1920s. This silk waste was considered a high-quality material, and produced good quantities with little waste. However, the industrial process to obtain this fiber was not considered cost-effective and it progressively lost its appeal until Reiko Sudi and NUNO addressed revival of kibiso yarn production. Kibiso comes from about 2% of the silk cocoon, Slow Fiber Studio says. It contains an especially high amount of sericin protein, which means it takes dye very strongly and offers great opportunities to explore body and texture. It’s used in its original, more rigid state, to create sculptural forms, or degummed with soda ash to soften the fibers.

Detail: Fungus Three, Kiyomi Iwata
Detail: Fungus Three, Kiyomi Iwata, Ogara Choshi are gathered. The surface is embellished with gold leaf and French embroidery knots, 6.5″ x 8″ x 7.5″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

Kiyomi Iwata is an artist who has explored the artistic opportunities that kibsio presents. Iwata was born in Kobe, Japan. She immigrated to the US in 1961. She studied at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and the Penland School of Craft. In the 1970s, she and her family relocated to New York City, where she studied at the New School for Social Research and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. She returned to Richmond in 2010 and began working on a body of work using kibiso. She explained to Amanda Dalla Villa Adams in an interview for Sculpture Magazine (“Qualities of the Unsaid: A Coversation with Kiyomi Iwata,” Sculpture Magazine, Amanda Dalla Villa Adams, February 11, 2021) what apealed to her about the material. 

Southern Crossing Three, Kiyomi Iwata
Southern Crossing Three, Kiyomi Iwata, woven Kibiso and paint, 55″ x 108″, 2014. Photo by Tom Grotta

Kibiso has a very different attraction for me, contrary to my usual silk organza, which is woven from fine silk thread,” Iwata told Adams. The silkworms produce 3,000 meters of thread during their lifetime, and kibiso is the very first 10 meters. “By using kibiso,” the artist says, “I am using the silkworm’s whole life output, which is gratifying. I went back to the traditional manner of using thread to weave. Whatever the thread had from its previous life, such as the silkworm’s cocoon, I left it where it was and dyed the thread.” 

Iwata has made objects of kibiso and also grid-like tapestries which Adams described as apearing as fragments,… “there is an unfinished quality to them,” she writes. “Some are large and freeform, while others are intimate and marked off by a frame.” According to Iwata, the “complex nuance of North versus South” has influenced her work since she re-crossed the Mason-Dixon line. It’s been in the last decade, I that she has transformed woven kibiso made into tapestry-like hangings. “They are either dyed or embellished with gold leaf,” she explains, “and I enjoy the process as much as the results. The whole idea of working, using hands and mind, and letting the process lead me is an eternal moment of joy for me. Sometimes I use a frame to give the piece a limitation, and other times I let the wall space frame the piece. It really is a difference in how I like to present the piece.” In Iwata’s hands, kibiso leads to striking results.


Look Up: installing art in the air

We often meet collectors who say “I love that piece, but I have no more room.” Our response — “What about your ceiling?” Work hung from above — in the center of the room, in front of a wall or window, or over a doorway can offer an exciting installation option.

Stainless steel Kyoko Kumai installation
Stainless Steel Tapestry by Kyoko Kumai installed from the ceiling in a two-story space in CT. Photo by Tom Grotta

We may have anticipated what would become a decorating trend. “Suspended Art is the New Gallery Wall,” claimed Apartment Therapy in 2021. “If you’ve been able to visit a museum or gallery safely recently (or even caught a digital exhibition), then you might have noticed that artwork is starting to move off of walls,” wrote Danielle Blunder. “Framed pieces and canvases alike are being suspended straight from ceilings, and I have to say, it’s an ever-so-slight — but clever — alternative to the gallery wall that I’d consider trying in my home to create an unexpected focal point.” (“This Art Hanging Idea Will Make Your Favorite Pieces Look Even More Luxe,” Danielle Blunder, Apartment Therapy, August 14, 2021. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/suspending-art-from-the-ceiling-36962165.) Blunder’s article gives several examples, including a designer who hung a framed photograph from the ceiling in front of a pair of heavy drapes — effectively creating a picture wall where there wasn’t one. Below are examples of works that could be ceiling-installed in front of a window.

Two Steel Dail Behennah stainless steel rope ball sculptures in Idaho home. Collector photo.

The results of a ceiling installation can be dramatic. Federica Luzzi’s contemporary fiber works have hung in Renaissance spaces, creating intriguing juxtapositions. Jane Balsgaard’s boats have graced churches — inspiring transcendent experiences. 

Federica Luzzi Chiesa Madonna del Pozzo, Spoleto, Italy installation
Solo exhibition of work by Federica Luzzi in Chiesa Madonna del Pozzo, Spoleto, Italy. Photo by the artist.
Jane Balsgaard boats
Jane Balsgaard’s elevated boats. Photo by the artist.

Grethe Wittrock’s lofty sail works create another incentive for using ceiling space.

Grethe Wittrock installation at the Fuller Craft Museum
Grethe Wittrock installation at the Fuller Craft Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Mia Olsson’s sisal panels create still one more.

Mia Olsson installation at the Diagnostic Center, University Hospital of Skåne
Mia Olsson installation at the Diagnostic Center, University Hospital of Skåne (in Malmö) 2003-04. Photo by the artist.

And, of course, there’s always straight from the ceiling, like these works by Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi

white Space Ship 2000 by Masakazu Kobayashi suspended in air
Space Ship 2000 by Masakazu Kobayashi, silk and wood, 31.5″ x 118″ x 35.5″, 2000. Photo by Tom Grotta.
Naomi Kobayashi's paper, Cosmic Ring
Naomi Kobayashi’s paper, Cosmic Ring. Photo by Tom Grotta

Contact us at art@browngrotta.com for ideas to create an aerial gallery in your space. Send us photos of the spot you have in mind and we can digitally install various options.


Allies for Art: Exclusively Online on Artsy through November 18, 2022

Did you miss the in-person version of Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries at browngrotta arts? Good news! You can see the art that made up the exhibition exclusively on Artsy through November 18th.

Three dimensional embroidered leaf shaped wall sculpture
7ak Embraced by Nature II, Anda Klancic, embroidered viscose, flax, cotton, polyester, metal filament, PVA fabric 31” x 23” x 9.25”, 2004. Photo by Tom Grotta

The nearly 50 artists in Allies for Art are from 21 different countries — 18 NATO members and 3 NATO applicants. Their work reflects diverse perspectives and experiences. The exhibition includes art created under occupation, in the ‘60s through the 80s, art by those who left repressive governments in Hungary, Romania and Spain, and art by other artists who left Russia in later years. Allies for Art also includes current works created by European artists including Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, Åse Ljones of Norway, Włodmierz Cygan of Poland, Ceca Georgieva of Bulgaria and, artists new to browngrotta arts, including Esmé Hofman of the Netherlands, Aby Mackie of Spain and Baiba Osite of Latvia.

Abstract off the wall textile sculpture
20mb Giallo, Marian Bijlenga, cotton; horshair, 58″ x 53″, 1994. Photo by Tom Grotta.

You can also learn more about the exhibition in the Allies for Art full-color catalog, which includes lush images and details shots and an essay by Kate Bonansinga, Director, School of Art, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio available on our website.

VIEW EXHIBITION ONLINE: Artsy
VIEW EXHIBITION IN PRINT: Order an Allies for Art catalog


Who’s New for Fall’s Art in the Barn? Introducing Baiba Osite and Mercedes Vicente

Baiba Osite and Mercedes Vicente are two more artists we are pleased to introduce whose work is included in Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries, our upcoming Art in the Barn exhibition this Fall.

City Walls driftwood wall sculpture Latvian artist by Baiba Osite
Detail: 1bo City Walls, Baiba Osite, driftwood, canvas, 70″ x 54″ x 4.5″, 2019. Photo Tom Grotta

Baiba Osite is from Latvia. Since graduating from the Latvian Academy of Art Textile Department and finishing her Master’s degree, she has participated in art exhibitions worldwide. Among those exhibitions were the biennial Textil Art of Today which traveled to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, International Fiber Art Biennial, From Lausanne to Beijing, China, the World Textile Art Biennial, Madrid, Spain, and the 3rd International Textile Competitions, Kyoto, Japan. She works in education and is a member of Latvian Artist Union and Textile Association. Recently, she has enriched her experience in two valuable residencies: ”Cite des Arts” in Paris and “Textilsetur” residency in Iceland. Osite leads a folk art textile studio. Partipants there spent two months sewing a safety net for Ukrainian national guards, a project they will continue again in the fall.

Detail: 1bo City Walls, Baiba Osite, driftwood, canvas, 70″ x 54″ x 4.5″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Osite is known for her work with different fiber materials including driftwood, glass beads, wire, metal spirals, wool and linen. “Historically,” Osite says, “these materials were used in household textiles. I assign to them contemporary understanding and concept.” The various materials are sources of inspiration for Osite to create new works. Her work is also inspired by traditional ethnographic patterns and influenced by different cultures.

The works that Osite will exhibit in Art for Allies are made from driftwood segments that she collects  on the shore of the Baltic Sea. One of Osite’s driftwod works, Substantia, was awarded the Acquisition Prize of Contextile 2018, the Contemporary Textile Art Biennial in Portugal. The work was based “on the paradoxical game between ‘being’ and ‘not being’ and the transformation of ‘being,’” Osite explains. Driftwood works like City Walls reflect her propensity for dissecting patterns from nature and recreating them in a new form. Osite created City Walls for the World Textile Association Biennial, Sustainable City in Madrid in 2019.

2mv Coralima, Mercedes Vicente, canvas, 13.5″ x 23.5″ x 12″, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

Mecedes Vicente is an artist based in Galicia, Spain, specializing in craft art. A regular participant in exhibitions around the world, Vicente is currently working with wood and textile projects, including sculptures made of canvas strips. Her work is influenced by the French artist Pierre Huyghe.

Born in Madrid in 1958, Mercedes Vicente’s family moved to various locations in Spain during her youth, an experience that pushed her to approach learning in a fundamentally self-taught manner. Initially, her art was pictorial, but it evolved into sculpture, with canvas as her primary medium. She loves the elastic, organic, flexible and translucent properties of the fabric with which she works. She must first prepare the untreated canvas by gluing it and priming it.

“When I started using this technique, I realised that people were amazed by such a manual process,” she says. “Then I started to think that what I was doing was within the realms of craftsmanship, art and design.” She chose fabric in part because it was easy to get hold of, since a member of her family worked in a factory producing canvas.

Vicente’s works often being or adapt a spiral shape. She told Thought Object about the significance of that shape. “Space is where the spiral arranges itself and where it’s subject to effects that impact it as if it were an architectural work: it’s exciting and moving how light acts upon the figure and how you can imagine yourself for a moment inside the spiral,” she points out. “This is part of the experience of space, dimensions, and volumes. It’s also the material with its finish and configuration and moreover, it’s the empty space around it where emotion lives.”

3mv Carinaria, Mercedes Vicente, canvas, 10″ x 13.75″ x 6″ , 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (browngrotta arts, October 8 – 16, 2022) will feature nearly 50 artists and highlight work from 21 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, 18 countries in NATO and the three current applicants. The artists in the exhibition reflect diverse perspectives and experiences. Allies for Art will include art created under occupation, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, art by those who left Hungary, Romania and Spain while occupied, and art by other artists who left Russia in later years. Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related Countries will also include works created by artists. like Osite and Vicente, who are currently working in Europe. Reserve your spot in Eventbrite


Hot Off the Presses! Gyöngy Laky: Screwing With Order Now Available

Rib Structure, 1988 and her book Gyöngy Laky: Screwing With Order, Assembled Art, actions and creative practice. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We are thrilled to report that copies browngrotta arts’ latest book, Gyöngy Laky: Screwing With Order, Assembled Art, actions and creative practicehave arrived in the US from our publishing partner arnoldsche art publishers in Stuttgart, Germany. Order a copy on our website: http://browngrotta.com. Designed by Tom Grotta, with text edit assistance from Laky and Rhonda Brown, and featuring Tom’s photography and that of several other photographers, the book examines the career of renowned textile artist and sculptor Gyöngy Laky from three perspectives. First, is Laky’s personal story of immigration and education narrated by arts and culture writer, Mija Reidel. Second, is an assessment of the evolution and impetus for Laky’s artwork by David M. Roth, editor and publisher of Squarecylinder, a San Francisco Bay Area online visual art magazine. Third, are images of forms, vessels and wall works, 249 pages, divided into seven sections: Drawings in Air, Grids, Vessels, Words & Letters, Signs & Symbols, Site Installations, and Abstractions.

Sun Stream, 1995 and Flat Figure, 1992

Laky has been described as a “wood whisperer.” Her highly individual, puzzle-like assemblages of timber and textiles helped propel the growth of the contemporary fiber-arts movement. Laky’s art reflects an extraordinary personal story: Born amid the bombings of World War II, escaping from post-war, Soviet-dominated Hungary to a sponsor family in Ohio, attending grade school in Oklahoma, studying at the University of California, Berkeley and in India, then founding Fiberworks Center for Textile Arts in the 1970s and fostering innovations as a professor at the University of California, Davis. And, since the late 60s, she has been creating individual works and installations in the US and abroad. 

Line, 1992 and Oll Korrect, 1998

Laky’s oeuvre, which reflects those experiences, “defies easy classification,” writes David M. Roth. “It draws on the history of indigenous people using found or harvested objects to create art and basic necessities; the 20th-century tradition of using found objects in collage,assemblage and sculpture; and the design and engineering principles that undergird contemporary architecture.“ Symbols and three-dimensional words feature in much of Laky’s work — using wood in this way, Roth posits, is akin to learning a foreign language, and Laky is conversant in more than a dozen,”becoming conversant in the dialects ‘spoken’ by each species.” Pieces like Line have been described as “cheeky.” Letters in works like Lag can be read in more than one way — in this case, as “Gal,” a statement on the hiring of women faculty at the University of California. “[It’s] an intellectual kind of play,” says Bruce Pepich, executive director and curator of collections at the Racine Art Museum, in Wisconsin.”It’s not a conventional sense of humor, but it’s the kind one gets from walking into various layers that exist in objects …You can take them at face value, but the more questions you ask, the deeper your engagement goes.” You can engage with more of Laky’s story and her art in Screwing with Order. The book provides insight into Laky’s studio practice, activism, and teaching philosophy, which champions sustainable art and design, original thinking, and the value of the unexpected.

Detail: Natura Facit Saltum, 2011 . Photo by Tom Grotta.

Scenes from an Exhibition: Crowdsourcing the Collective this Week

Photo by Juan Pabon/Ezco Production

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule Your Visit Here: 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Portrait Jeannet Leendertse
Jeannet Leendertse portrait by David Grinnell

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

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

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

Portrait Shoko Fukuda
Shoko Fukuda portrait by Makoto Yano

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhibition Dates/Hours

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

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

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

Address
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897

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


Sailing Away: The Perpetual Artistic Appeal of Boats

Lawrence LaBianca's Boat installation
Lawrence LaBianca’s Boat installation, 2010: Skiff; Twenty Four Hours on the Roaring Fork River, Aspen CO. Day Two; Boat House; Trow. Photo by Tom Grotta

Boats and ships and time on the water are potent metaphors for the highs and lows of contemporary life.

As FineArt America says of “boat art”:”… whether you own a boat, grew up by the sea, or dream of sailing the wide-open ocean, boats have a way of making us feel a unique combination of calm and adventurous.”.

New York Bay 1884
Helena Hernmarck, New York Bay 1884, wool, 10’ x 13.5’, 1990. Photo by Tom Grotta

Artists at browngrotta arts explore the artistic potential of boats and boat shapes in widely divergent ways. 

Kayak Bundles
Chris Drury, Kayak Bundles, willow bark and cloth sea charts from Greenland and Outer Hebrides, 79″ x 55″ x 12″, 1994. Photo by Tom Grotta

Some, like Lawrence LaBianca, Helena Hernmarck, Chris Drury and Annette Bellamy, have referenced them literally in their work. Lawrence LaBianca creates experiences in which water is an integral part. In Skiff, an antique telephone receiver links viewers to sounds of a rushing river. Twenty-four Hours on the Roaring Fork River, Aspen, CO, is a print created by Drawing Boat, a vessel filled with river rocks that makes marks on paper when it is afloat. Annette Bellamy has lived in a small fishing village called Halibut Cove right across the bay from Homer, Alaska and worked as a commercial fisherwoman. Off season, she reflects on her day job, creating porcelain, earthenware, raku-fired ceramic and stoneware boats, buoys, sinkers and oars that float inches from the floor.

Floating installation at the Fuller Museum

Annette Bellamy, Floating installation at the Fuller Museum (detail), 2012. Stoneware, porcelain wood fired and reduction fired. Photo by Tom Grotta

Others, like Dona Anderson, Jane Balsgaard, Merja Winquist, Birgit Birkkjaer and Christine Joy, are moved to create more abstract versions. Boat is a part of new work of hers that is more angular, says Christine Joy. “The shape that occurs when I bend the willow reminds me of waves on choppy water, boats, and the movement of water.” Birgit Birkkjaer’s baskets contain precious amber that she has found washed up on the shore. The indigo-dyed baskets symbolize the sea that brings the amber to the shore – and a ship from ancient times, transporting the Nordic Gold to the rest of Europe. Boats and boat shapes conjure thoughts of water as a natural force, a spiritual source, or a resource for which humans are responsible — and not doing such a red hot job. 

Dona Anderson Boat
Crossing Over, Dona Anderson, bamboo kendo (martial art sticks); patterned paper; thread, 15″ x 94″ x 30″ , 2008. Photo by Tom Grotta
Nordic Gold comes from the Sea
Birgit Birkkjær, Nordic Gold comes from the Sea, linen, amber, plexi, 2.25” x 27.5” x 13”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta
Christine Joy willow boat
Boat Becoming River, Christine Joy, willow 14” x 31” x 10”, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

in each case the results are imaginative and intriguing. Enjoy these varied depictions and see more on our website.

Jane Balsgaard Boats
Paper Sculpture II-IV, Jane Balsgaard, bamboo, piassava, willow, fishing line, japaneese and handmade plant paper, 14” x 13.5 x 5“, 2020. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Japandí Catalog (our 52nd) is Available

Birgit Birkkjaer and Kay Sekimachi spread
Birgit Birkkjaer and Kay Sekimachi spread from: Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences

For browngrotta arts, documentation of the field of contemporary art textiles is critically important. Like a tree falling in the forest, if we don’t document an exhibition we’ve curated it’s a bit like if it didn’t happen. Generally, our exhibitions include catalogs that feature individual images of each artwork included, and often, an artist’s statement for each work. In addition, we typically feature essays by curators and scholars who take a broader look at the work or the exhibition theme.

Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences catalog cover
Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences catalog cover

For our latest catalog, Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences https://store.browngrotta.com/catalogs/ (our 52nd), however, we took a slightly different approach. Japandi is a term that refers to the aesthetic kinship one sees between art and design of Japan and the Scandinavian countries. To illustrate affinities, we created spreads — room- or wall-sized groupings of works from each region, rather than highlighting individual artworks. We included the artists’ recollections about how they discovered another culture or how other cultures have influenced their work. We added statements from designers, architects and authors about the similarities they have observed. 

Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences catalog cover
Works by Merja Winqvist, Naoko Serino, Kari Lønning and Yasuhisa Kohyama from Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences

Instead of commissioning an essay, we shared with you what we discovered about Japandi as we researched this exhibition. The introductory text, Mapping Affinities, explains that the roots of Japanese/Nordic synergy extend to the 19th century. It also explains that the trendy term, Japandi, refers to four elements, which the introduction describes: appreciation for exquisite craftsmanship and natural and sustainable materials, minimalism and respect for the imperfect (wabi-sabi) and the comfortable (hygge). The introduction also describes how the artists included experience the Japandi elements differently — some through study, some through travel. Still others describe recognizing these parallels in ways as something they were always aware of and acted upon.

textile by Chiyoko Tanaka, basket by Kazue Honma and wood sculpture by Markku Kosonen
Textile by Chiyoko Tanaka, basket by Kazue Honma and wood sculpture by Markku Kosonen from Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences

Not all the work that is in the catalog appeared in the exhibition — we included these works to further illustrate our sense of the regions’ common approaches.

Åse Ljones wall hanging and Ceramic by Yasuhisa Kohyama spread
Åse Ljones wall hanging and Ceramic by Yasuhisa Kohyama spread from Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences

We hope you’ll get a copy of Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences https://store.browngrotta.com/catalogs/ and see for yourself.