Tag: Knitting

Influence and Evolution Introduction: Carole Frève

Detail of Open Up to You by Carole Frève. Photo by tom Grotta

Detail of Open Up to You
by Carole Frève. Photo by Tom Grotta

Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, at browngrotta arts From April 24 – May 3, 2015 will include work by Canadian artist Carole Frève, who creates vessels of blown glass and knitted wire. “From 1995 until 1999 I worked with industrial wire nettings,” says Frève. “As I felt limited by these materials, I began to knit the wire. More or less at the same moment I began to explore the technique of electro-formed copper. In 2000, I had the idea of electroforming my copper knitting

Open Up to You by Carole Freve Process Shot by Carole Freve

Open Up to You by Carole Frève Process Photo by Carole Fréve

to stiffen it and so to obtain a three-dimensional shape. Since then, I have explored several combinations of techniques to develop a personal artistic language.” Carol Fréve’s grandfather was a blacksmith in Quebec in the early 1900s, forging shoes for the horses that pulled copper from the mines. As Heather Ritchie noted in a 2007 article, ”Carole Frève: Interstices,” in Glass Quarterly, Carole was the only one of his grandchildren who would follow in his footsteps, taking up “a manual trade and working with the fire,” mixing copper and fired glass. Frève first

Carole Freve Listen To Me. Photo by Tom Grotta

Carole Frève Listen To Me. Photo by Tom Grotta

studied Industrial Design and after graduating in 1992, she completed a three-year glass program and Espace Verre in Montreal. Each of Frève’s vessels conducts, “a converasation with a semblance of itself,“ in Ritchie’s terms, “a conversation between what is and what appears to be; between what we are and the image we project…” Freve’s vessels of glass and knitted copper will be featured in Influence and Evolution, which opens at 3pm on April 24th. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 12pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier or later, call: 203-834-0623.

Blurring the Line: Textile Art Takes Manhattan

This Fall, art involving weaving, embroidery and crochet is showing up in unexpected venues in New York, possibly answering the question, at last: Is craft art? One gallery disavows any connection: “Olek’s use of crochet has no relation to the world of craft, rather it is used as an alternative to other artistic mediums such as oil or acrylic on canvas.” the press materials assert. But we can’t help but wonder: Does the gallery protest too much??

In any event, Here’s a list of three intriguing exhibitions featuring artists who use cotton viscose, silk and recycled material, woven and crocheted, in their work as well as acrylic, ink, enamel and glass.


threading orbs
An Exhibition of Recent Tapestries and Works on Paper by Thierry W. Despont
Marlborough Gallery, Inc.
40 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
t. 212.541.4900 f. 212.541.4948
September 23rd – October 23, 2010

The Marlborough Gallery mounts an exhibition of tapestries and works on paper by renowned artist, architect and designer Thierry W. Despont The show will mark the public debut of Despont’s work in tapestry. Eight monumental tapestries will be displayed. Despont is recognized for his paintings on wood panel or on copper mounted on wood panel that depict nebulas, celestial bodies and planets. These works are executed in mixed media with such materials as enamel, asphaltum, acrylic, ink, glue, epoxy resin, paper, alumichrom, and oil stick. By using contemporary Jacquard looms, Despont as translated these richly detailed, highly expressive paintings into woven tapestries that seem to glow with light.

Despont comments on this new body of work: “… I like to think of my orbs as floating in space, and tapestry, with its three-dimensional aspects, is a fantastic medium for them…. I am fascinated by our universe filled with billions of galaxies, of stars and planets, by the idea of being drawn into space and floating away. The tapestries display this poetic notion of floating with these orbs, as the light bounces off softly. … People are drawn to them…. It is an emotional force; they exert their own kind of gravity.”

In addition to his familiarity with tapestries as a child in France, Despont became engaged with the medium of tapestry — its beauty, artistic qualities and installation — through his restoration of Clayton, the Frick family mansion in Pittsburgh, and his design for the Decorative Arts Galleries of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where numerous tapestries of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries are on view. He joins a number of contemporary artists who have used the new, technologically advanced Jacquard looms to create lasting work of power and intricate visual poetry.

An illustrated catalogue featuring an interview with the artist will be available at the time of the exhibition.


“OLEK: Knitting is for Pus****”
Christopher Henry Gallery
127 Elizabeth St., (Broome)
New York, NY
Through October 17, 2010

Polish-born artist, Olek creates wild, and occasionally functional, structures from hundreds of miles of crocheted, woven, and often recycled materials, forms, and spaces. For this exhibition,the ChristopherHenry Gallery serves as the “home base” for Olek’s exhibit, a multi-media sculptural environment, featuring an entire room completely covered in crochet. Viewers may also follow her threads out of the gallery using a map to discover new objects she has crocheted and intertwined throughout the neighborhoods of NOLITA and L.E.S.

“Olek’s use of crochet has no relation to the world of craft,” reads the gallery’s press materials, “rather it is used as an alternative to other artistic mediums such as oil or acrylic on canvas. Its use can be interpreted as a metaphor for the complexity and interconnectedness of the body, its systems and psychology, and, in a broader sense, it can represent humanity itself. The connections are stronger as one fabric, as opposed to separate strands, but, if you cut one, the whole thing will fall apart. It also serves as a literal extension of the body, a second skin that can be stretched and reshaped. Olek’s use of crochet is not a feminist critique – her obsessive use of the medium, often denigrated as “women’s work”, combined with Olek’s recurring camouflage motif and the impressive scale of her projects, challenges traditional notions of gender, as she aggressively re-weaves the world as she sees fit. In a new series of text based works Olek contrasts the convenience and spontaneity of “txt msgs” to her time-consuming, laborious crochet, reevaluating the notions of privacy, communication, and technology while immortalizing the intense yet fleeting sentiments of modern relationships.”


The marquis and a bearded dominatrix with a cake in the oven

Galerie Lelong
528 W. 26th St.
New York, NY
Through October 23, 2010.
In The marquis and a bearded dominatrix with a cake in the oven, Angelo Filomeno presents new embroidery paintings and sculpture that exemplify his signature technique and fascination with the macabre. Fantastical and allegorical in imagery, and intricate in technique, Filomeno’s works are deeply informed by his upbringing in Italy. Filomeno learned to embroider from his mother and began apprenticing for a tailor when he was 7; his father was a blacksmith. From a young age, Filomeno formed a keen awareness of texture, composition, detail, and craftsmanship. He also developed an interest in the darker facets of the human condition: mortality, isolation, compulsion, fragility. These stark themes have pervaded his work, juxtaposed with the use of alluring, sensuous materials such as silk, black glass, and crystals.

In his newest exhibition, Filomeno pares down the ornate approach for which he is best known and presents sparser, more concise works that evoke the artist’s common themes with minimal means. Included are two large-scale mandalas, embroidered mosaics of stitched silk and satin in varying shades of yellow. The concentric rings of geometric patterns and bright yellow hues beckon the viewer to gaze deeper and deeper in to the piece, only to be confronted by a sinister skull and hoards of cockroaches hidden in their centers. Also on view will be a triptych of detached, decomposing heads of men he deems ‘philosophers,’ a character that he has revisited throughout his career as a paradigm of the harsh aspects of mortality and reflection. “The irony,” Filomeno has said, “is that these portraits represent death, but they are still thinking about their own existence.”

Maybe we’ll see you there.

Stitching on the Silver Screen: A List in Progress

Writing about needlework in the film Bright Star last month got me wondering — and Googling — about other portrayals of sewing, weaving, embroidery, and the like in film. I poked around the web for a couple of weeks and contacted film experts and friends of long-standing Cari Beauchamp and Sloan Seale for suggestions. (Cari is the author of a host of books on film including: Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years and Adventures of a Hollywood Secretary: Her Private Letters from Inside the Studios of the 1920s with Valeria Belletti and Sam Goldwyn Jr.) The result is the highly idiosyncratic list below. I am indebted to artist Sabrina Gschwandtner and Fiberarts editor Marci Rae McDade who compiled a list of feature-length fiber-related films in the April/May 2009 issue of Fiberarts (their selections are asterisked below). I have added the parantheticals and other nominees in developing my own compilation. For a much more extensive list (132!) of films that feature just knitting, see Knitting in the Movies; there’s another at Knit Flix.

Films that Feature Handwork (a highly selective view):

The Addams Family; Addams Family Values, 1991;1993 (In the films and tv series, Mother Morticia often knits odd two-headed, three-legged items for family members.)

Amelie, 2001 (tobaccionist is crocheting).

Babette’s Feast, 1987 (Babette sews with her sisters in the kitchen.)

Bend It Like Beckham, 2002 (Mrs Bhamra (Shaheen Khan) is knitting for her expected grandchild.)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s, * 1961 (Includes the famed line: “Jose brought up the blueprints for a new ranch house. I have this strange feeling that the blueprints and the knitting instructions got switched. I may be knitting a ranch house!” For more Audrey check out Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn stitchalong for across-stitch pattern of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.)

City Lights, Charlie Chaplin, 1931 (Skein winding.)


Coraline,* 2009 (see Thread for Thought for a comprehensive discussion of the “loving attention” given to handcrafts in this film.)

Dancing at Lughnasa,* Pat O’Connor, 1998, (Meryl Streep knits socks.)


Fargo, 1996 (Jean in a bobble and cable sweater, knitting her next project. (thank you Vickie Howell.)

Gone with the Wind,* Victor Fleming, 1939 (When Melanie is reading while the women are waiting, one of them is crocething).

Handmade Nation,* Faythe Levine, 2009 (Includes portraits of crafters across the US, including knitters and embroiderers.)

The Heiress, 1949 (Olivia deHaviland begins an embroidered sampler when her lover abandons her on the night they were to elope.) (In 1999, artist Elaine Reicker who uses embroidery to explore aesthetics in art created a video, When This You See . . ., that combined nine appropriated film clips that show women knitting, sewing, or weaving — including The Heiress. “Each segment reveals a pivotal moment in the source movie’s drama and is punctuated by a freeze-frame and the superimposition of a single word written in bright pink cursive script: ‘obsession,’ ‘betrayal,’ ‘revolution,’ ‘revenge,'” wrote Margaret Sundell, in Art Forum (6/22/99). In this way, Reichek captures cinema’s structural interplay between repetition and temporal unfolding, and – as the viewer starts anticipating the arrival of her interpretative captions – the rhythm of expectation and delivery that drives its narrative engine.”)

Heavenly Creatures, 1994 (Kate Winslet knits.)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,* 2005 (At one point, the entire cast is turned into stop-animation knitted dolls. One of them vomits multicolored yarn.)

How to Make an American Quilt, 1995 (The story centers on the stories of several women in a quilting bee as they construct a wedding quilt as a gift for a member’s granddaughter, Finn Dodd (Winona Ryder).)

Like Water for Chocolate,* 1992 (Tita crochets onto a bedspread when upset, as a way of coping with disappointment.)

Mr. Lucky, 1943 (Cary Grant learns to knit.)

Now, Voyager, 1942. Bette Davis operates a loom at the sanatorium where she goes to stave off a nervous breakdown and later on in the film she knits on deck on a cruise.













The Odyssey, 1997 (Penelope (Greta Saatchi) weaves a shroud by day and unravels it by night — having promised to pick a suitor when her weaving is finished, and having no intention of ever reaching the end, certain that Ulysses will yet return home.)

The Lone Wolf battles Nazi spies, including Valerie King, intent on stealing military plans. At one point, Valerie’s purse spills open and a patch of crocheted lace falls out. Later, The Whistler, a mercenary, approaches the Lone Wolf and reveals that King delivered the lace to a laundry and has arranged to pick it up at midnight. The Whistler gets hold of the lace, and when he and another mercenary, unravel the lace, they decipher a code directing Valerie to a midnight meeting with a submarine.

Pluto’s Sweater, 1949, animated (Pluto is teased when he wears a red sweater knit for him by Minnie.).

Preparez vos Mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) 1978 (The leading lady knits for her lovers and when her knitting shows up on other men, they immediately know what’s up — as does the audience.)

The Price of Milk,* 2000 (key role for patchwork quilt.)

Repo Man, 1984 (A knitting security guard.)

The Science of Sleep,* 2006 (Knit objects take on an animated life.)

The Secret Code, 1918 (The villainess crochets coded messages into mufflers)

Tale of Two Cities, 1935 (Madame DeFarge knits a register of names of those headed to the guillotine); also A History of the World, Part I, Mel Brooks, 1981 (Madame Defarge (played by Cloris Leachman) has become so poor she has run out of wool, simply rubbing her knitting needles together.)

Wallace & Gromit
: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 2005 (Gromit, knits a scarf while waiting in the car for Wallace); also Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave,* 1995 (this one’s just 30 minutes, but it’s all about hand knitting and knitting machines.)

Wanted,* 2008 (A mild-mannered man leaves a dead-end job to join a fraternity of assassins headquartered in an unassuming textile mill. The group is giving its assignments by the Loom of Fate, a loom that gives the names of the targets through binary code hidden in weaving errors of the fabric.)

Wool 100%,* 2006 (In this Japanese film, two elderly sisters live in a mansion piled to the roof with things they have found in the trash, including a jumble of brilliant red yarn. A strange, wild girl breaks into their house and starts to knit the yarn into a formless sweater.)

And What’s with handwork and the criminal element?

In A Cry In The Dark, 1988, Meryl Streep knits while discussing the trial where her baby is carried off by a dingo in Australia. In Chicago, 2002, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) knits during her murder trial and in Murder Most Foul, 1964. Margaret Rutherford knits in jury box. In No Escape, 1999, male prisoners are seen spinning and knitting. And in Foul Play, 1978, Goldie Hawn uses a knitting needle as a weapon and so does a seemingly mild-mannered grandmother in George Romero’s The Crazies, 1973).

Add your nominees to the list by posting a comment here or writing us at art@browngrotta.com. Thanks!

Buy a Sweater; Help the Homeless

I’m no knitter, but I can online shop with the best of them. Whether you’re better at clicking knitting needles or computer keys, you can help Warming Families, a charity that knits clothing for the homeless. For every Lands’ End FeelGood Sweater purchased this Fall, the company will donate FeelGood yarn to Warming Families. Lands’ End expects to donate thousands of pounds of yarn — enough for volunteers to knit as many as 25,000 men’s, women’s and children’s hats. Vickie Howell, the host of DIY Network’s Knitty Gritty, as designed two hat patterns for Land’s End that you can download at http://www.landsend.com/lp/feelgood/feelgoodbeanie.pdf, if you want to join the Warming Families knitting volunteers. There’s also an instructional video with Vicki Howell that you can watch at the Lands’ End/Feel Good website.