Tag: textile art

Artist Focus: Blair Tate

Balir Tate Self portrait
Blair Tate self portrait, 2021

Blair Tate has explored flat woven grids in her work since the 70s. Her work evidences an “austere elegance,” Jack Lenor Larsen and Mildred Constantine observed in the seminal The Art Fabric: Mainstream in 1985. “I began weaving in the early 70s, under the influence of 60s Minimalism and modernist architecture,” she wrote in 1986. “I believed that form should follow function and accordingly I sought an objective basis for my work. In this, I was reacting against the majority of the weavnig I saw at the time: weaving that seemed either unfocused and overwhelmed by an eruption of materials, or myopically and exclusively concerned with complex technique …. I determined that my work in fiber should come from fiber and celebrate the medium.” 

Rift, 1991 by Blair Tate
Rift, Blair Tate, linen, cotton rope and aluminum, 96″ x 65″, 1991. Photo by Tom Grotta

To compose her works, Tate creates modular units of woven linen strips tied together with cotton cords. The knots that result create an additional pattern — what Tate considers a scaffold for the tapestry, producing a second complicating scrim. She sees an analogy between textile and text. The strips are like sentences that can be edited,  “rearranged to re-contextualize, to forge relationships, to develop meaning.” Her influences are diverse, African kente cloths “for their beauty and directness,” Baroque architecture, Berber carpets, Italo Calvino’s, If on a Winter’s Night a Travelerand an appreciation for Japanese order and symmetry, broken by natural variations. In addition to her weavings, she has worked as a commercial textile designer, authored The Warp: A Weaving Resource (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984) which analyzes the elements of weaving, and in the past year, she has made masks for neighbors, friends and a local care center.

Pangaea, 2021 and Small Gemelli, 1977 by Blair Tate
Pangaea, linen, cotton rope and aluminum, 46″ x 29″ x 1.5″, 2021 2021
Small Gemelli, woven linen, spago (hemp). loosely constructed plaid. It exposes and clarifies each element of weaving – counted wefts follow a small doubling sequence within parallel warps which leave all weft ends exposed, 24.75” x 18.75” x 3.25”, 1977

In Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change this spring at browngrotta arts (May 8 -16), Tate will exhibit two works that explore her ideas about the warp. Small Gemelli (1977) was one of her earliest pieces to focus on the elements of weaving. It is a simple plaid – one of the most fundamental woven configurations – but opened to keep both warp and weft distinct.  In Panagea, created this year, Tate consciously wove to the very limits of her warp to minimize loom waste.  In the past, she says,  “I might have incorporated interruptions in the strips while weaving, thereby wasting the unwoven warp; in Pangaea, the gaps emerge only in the rearranging.” 

Jaiselmer by Blair Tate
Detail of Jaiselmer by Blair Tate, linen, cotton rope and aluminum, 73″ x 39″, 1999. Photo by Tom Grotta

Influence and Evolution Update: More Innovators

Details of works by Anda Klancic, Stephanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, photos by Tom Grotta

Details of works by Anda Klancic, Stephanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, photos by Tom Grotta

This April’s exhibition at browngrotta arts, includes 15 artists whose work we believe shows the experimental approach to materials and methods that characterized the fiber art movement in its early days, in the the 1960s. Six of these 15, Anda Klancic, Stéphanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Randy Walker are not new to browngrotta arts, but they do epitomize an approach that deftly combines exploration and technical mastery. Anda Klancic of Slovenia for example, has won awards and holds patent on the techniques she has developed to create lace-like works using a sewing machine. Naoko Serino of Japan blows air into jute to create surprisingly luminous, magical forms. Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium is an innovative sculptor in willow and clay, who also uses photography, video and performance to explore larger questions of identity. As one observer wrote “watch her voids and shadows carefully as they are rich with meaning.” Susie Gillespie of the UK combines natural materials, including hand-spun nettle, with a novel mix of techniques, broken borders, insets and slits and twining, to create works with a sense of earth, stone, vegetation and decomposition, that

15cy Mar Y Arena, Carolina Yrarrázaval, silk and linen 69” x 31, 2012. Photo by Tom Grotta

appear old, yet feel new. Throughout her career, Carolina Yrarrázaval of Chile has investigated and adapted traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques. Her highly accomplished, abstract weavings are austere and sensual at the the same time. American artist, Randy Walker, takes an architectural approach, creating interesting and elegant constructions that use fine threads, cords and ropes to re-envision humble found objects.

8rw Collider Randy Walker steel, nylon 29.75” x 31.5” x 12”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Recent works by this diverse group of artists will be featured in Influence and Evolution, Fiber sculpture…then and now, at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut from April 24th – May 3rd. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 1pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier than 10am or later than 5pm, call: 203-834-0623.