“What is it about thread that is so appealing? Within contemporary society there is a hunger for sensual experiences that can only be satisfied by handle and texture. We are surrounded by smooth surfaces, from screens to kitchen counters, floors and cars. Clothing is increasingly constructed from a narrow range of nylon and cotton fibre – while appealing to the eye, these leave the hand starved of stimulus.” Polly Leonard, Founder/Editor, selvedge Magazine selvedge, Issue 84, Surface, September – October 2018To learn more about Polly and the founding of selvedge, access Threaded Stories: A Talk with Polly Leonard:https://classiq.me/threaded-stories-a-talk-with-polly-leonard
These are exciting days at the Tate Modern in London for fans of art textiles. You’ll find fiber works by important artists in several different galleries.
Beyond Craft, in the Boiler House, curated by Ann Coxon features three pioneers, Lenore Tawney, Olga de Amaral and Sheila Hicks, who experimented with different weaving techniques, often looking to historical or indigenous textiles for inspiration. De Amaral and Hicks were particularly inspired by the technical brilliance of Peruvian weavings made before European colonization. The Museum notes that many artists in the 1960s were using weaving and knotting to create innovative hangings and sculptures, integrating traditional craft techniques into fine art practice. “The 1960s saw several high-profile exhibitions of ‘fiber art’: textile techniques used to create unique art objects without a practical function. These three artists were among those who attempted to collapse the hierarchy that sets fine art above craft. While this distinction has not entirely disappeared, in recent years fiber art has become a source of inspiration for a new generation of artists and curators and the artists displayed here are receiving fresh consideration.”
In Magdalena Abakanowicz, also in the Boilerhouse, viewers can explore Abakanowicz’s stitched cloth sculptures inspired by biological systems, organic matter, and regeneration. “Made at a time of political tension between the Soviet Union and Poland, Abakanowicz has said the work ‘could be understood as a cry from behind the Iron Curtain’,” says the Museum notes. (That was the time frame in which Anne and Jacques Baruch brought Abakanowicz’ work to the US, the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.)
Elsewhere in the Boilerhouse is a work by El Anatsui, who completely transforms the most pedestrian materials into art. By flattening bottle tops and stitching them together into a shimmering metal cloth, he turns familiar disposable objects into something that appears precious and alters them in the viewers’ eyes. Taking a similar approach to the mundane, Sheela Gowda from India has created a room-sized installation made of car bumpers and handwoven human hair, an observation on “the coexistence of ritual and superstition alongside modern urban and economic transformation.”
Want to know more? Visit the Museum’s website to see images and to read New Yarn, Tate, etc. Essay: Textiles and Art by Kirsty Bell: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/new-yarns
After a few-year hiatus, browngrotta arts will return to the Sculpture, Objects, and Functional Art Exposition at the Navy Pier in Chicago next month. We’ll be reprising our most recent exhibition, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, with different works for a number of artists, including Naoko Serino, Kay Sekimachi, Anda Klancic, Ritzi Jacobi, Randy Walker, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Lenore Tawney. Other artists whose work will be featured in browngrotta arts’ exhibit are Magdalena Abakanowicz, Adela Akers, Lia Cook, Sheila Hicks, Masakazu Kobayashi, Naomi Kobayashi, Luba Krejci, Jolanta Owidzka, Ed Rossbach, Sherri Smith, Carole Fréve, Susie Gillespie, Stéphanie Jacques, Tim Johnson, Marianne Kemp, Federica Luzzi, Rachel Max, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Michael Radyk and Gizella K Warburton. SOFA will publish a related essay, Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane by Jo Ann C. Stabb,
on the origins of the contemporary fiber movement.
Now in its 22nd year, SOFA CHICAGO is a must-attend art fair, attracting more than 36,000 collectors, museum groups, curators and art patrons to view museum-quality works of art from 70+ international galleries. After a nationwide competition, SOFA CHICAGO recently placed #7 in the USA Today Reader’s Choice 10 Best Art Events.New this year, SOFA CHICAGO will unveil a revamped floorplan created by Chicago architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture. The re-envisioned design will create a more open and cohesive show layout, allowing visitors to explore the fair in a more engaging way. Changes include a new, centrally located main entrance where browngrotta arts’ booth, 921, will be located. Cheryl Noel of Wrap Architecture adds, “The most effective urban contexts contain distinct places within the larger space, corridors with visual interest and clear paths with fluid circulation. We believe this new floorplan will capture the spirit of the art and be an expression of the work itself, exploring form and materiality, with the same level of design rigor applied.”
On Friday, November 6th, from 12:30 to 2:30, Michael Radyk will be at browngrotta arts’ booth to discuss his Swan Point series, Jacquard textiles created to be cut and manipulated after being taken off the loom, in which Radyk was trying “to bring the artist’s hand back into the industrial Jacquard weaving process.” SOFA opens with a VIP preview on Thursday, November 5th, from 5 pm to 9 pm. The hours for Friday and Saturday are 11 am – 7 pm; and 12 to 6 pm on Sunday the 8th. SOFA is in the Festival Hall, Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue Chicago, IL 60611. Hope to see you there!
Our Spring exhibition Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now explored the impact of artists – Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach and others – who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture. In Influence and Evolution, we paired early works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lia Cook, Kay Sekimachi and Françoise Grossen — artists who rebelled against tapestry tradition — with works from a later generation of artists, all born in 1960 or after. Fiber sculpture continues to evolve through this second group of artists, including María Eugenia Dávila and Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela,
Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium, Naoko Serino of Japan and Anda Klancic of Slovenia. In our 160-page color exhibition catalog, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, you can see the works in the exhibition. Each artist is represented by at least two works; images of details are included so that readers can experience the works fully. The catalog also includes an insightful essay, Bundling Time and Avant-garde Threadwork by Ezra Shales, PhD, Associate Professor, History of Art Department, Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. Influence and Evolution, Shales write in his essay, “poses rich comparisons and asks the mind to sustain historical linkages. We feel the uneven texture of time, luring us into a multiplicity of artistic pasts and an open road of varied fibrous futures. An emphasis on plural possibilities makes this exhibition quite distinct from a tidy biblical story of genesis or masters and apprentices. We witness multiple intra-generational passing of batons as well as many artists changing horses midstream, as well they often do.” The three works in Influence and Evolution by Adela Akers that traverse five decades provide a fascinating view of the artistic progression Shales refers to. The curvilinear, draped forms of Summer and Winter
(1977; restored 2014), he notes, resemble “both a ruffle and a row of ancient mourners.” Midnight, from 1988, by contrast, is hard-edged, “a monumental window into an alternative architectural space.” And Akers recent work, Silver Waves, completed in 2014, is “an intimate surface with linear imagery” whose horsehair bristles “almost invite a caress if they did not seem to be a defensive adaptation.” Juxtapose Silver Waves with American Michael Radyk’s Swan Point (2013) and and Dutch artist, Marianne Kemp’s Red Fody (2013) that also features horsehair, and catalog readers are likely to understand Shales’ query: should we categorize woven forms as a logical temporal narrative or inevitable sequence of linked inquiries? Shales is a guest curator of Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and
Today currently at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York which features more than 100 works, by a core cadre of women—including Ruth Asawa, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes, Toshiko Takaezu, Lenore Tawney, and Eva Zeisel—who had impact and influence as designers, artists and teachers, using materials in innovative ways. To order a copy of Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, our 43rd catalog, visit browngrotta.com.