June 30 – July 27, 2005
Opening Reception Thursday, June 30, 6-8pm
New Tapestries, curated by Adam Frank
Sara Meltzer Gallery is proud to present New Tapestries, a group show of fourteen artists' recent works. These artists work with an interest in revisiting, reusing, and elevating the historical medium of tapestry. Using materials including thread, fabric and paint they elaborate on the uses of weaving, embroidery, and fabric. From tapestries' primary use as wall coverings, the objects have always existed on the border of craft and fine art. Critical discourse on this crossover has recently increased as artists push the boundaries of commerce and culture. This selected group of works reflects an interest in the use of an old method to discuss current issues.
Andrea Bowers presents Soft Blockade, a woven wall inspired by the Women's Pentagon Actions in 1980 and 1981 that brought thousands to Washington to encircle the Pentagon and express opposition to war through theater and ritual. Weaving was used as a metaphor of women's power against institutions, a practice first initiated by the Weavers Alliance, a group from rural Vermont who wove across the doors of nuclear power plants. At the first Women's Pentagon Action some activists wove the doors to the Pentagon shut with brightly colored yarns.
Lee Boroson's Central Shaft is composed of a panel of fabric embellished with embroidered leaves. The panel takes form as a column stretched floor to ceiling, inflated by a small electrical fan built into the body. Boroson references a zone between the natural and the man-made, where nature appears guided by cultural precepts. This juncture functions as a point of entry that is meditative and poetic as Boroson comments on manifest destiny, urban planning, and the psychology of architecture.
In Matthew Brannon's tapestries, he explores the history of decoration through a discourse on the artificial, the appropriated and the interior. Brannon uses a combination of paint and embroidery on canvas to construct bucolic imagery often including birds and trees. Their representations are graphic in nature, an updated version of historic tapestries that reflect his interest in print and the translation of information.
Margarita Cabrera creates vinyl soft-sculptures that address the politics of border culture and her own Mexican-American identity. Here she presents a new work from a recent series of instruments. Her work is characterized by replications of actual objects created out of vinyl and thread and incorporating actual parts of the recreated object. The threads are left loose and untrimmed, emphasizing her own labor.
At first glance, Rowena Dring's works appear to be paintings of landscapes. Upon further inspection, they reveal themselves as large quilts of stitched fabric that are stretched as if canvas. Dring's imagery is reminiscent of graphic design and paint-by-numbers. Dring transforms both painting and quilting into new forms that question their predecessors.
Angelo Filomeno's organic forms, influenced by imagery from nature anthologies, are painstakingly embroidered on rich tones of shantung silk stretched over canvas. The surreal narratives, detailed with an appliquéd spray of crystals and semi-precious gemstones, flaunt both Filomeno's fantastical conceptions and his astonishing craftsmanship.
Chie Fukao photographs refuse, food, and other random accumulations of objects and then embroiders their shapes onto found materials such as curtains, clothes, and bedding. The resulting works transform their diverse sources into hybrid objects of function and pleasure. Influenced by the Japanese obsession with youth culture, Fukuao's simple imagery works to abstract and make tangible concepts of excess.
Sabrina Gschwandtner works with thread, slide film, 16 mm film, and video as media in which to explore possibilities of tactile cinema. Her process includes the act of sewing and its ability to function as a simultaneously destructive and reconstructive act. The work exhibited is a quilt of found film, a part of a series of films that are sewn
together or sewn upon, often for projection.
Kent Henricksen embroiders images of macabre objects such as hoods and masks on printed fabrics, linen, and paper. The resulting figures, presented playing on swings or courting each other amidst pastoral settings, take on a dark, sinister appearance. The embroidered images make associations to the Ku Klux Klan and sexual fetishes. That these contemporary ideals are placed in an historic context makes them all the more lascivious and humorous.
Andrea Higgins paints textile patterns. She writes, "My paintings are optical, abstract compositions and at the same time refer to the associations the individual viewer has to the particular fabric." A painting from the series The President's Wives is exhibited. Higgins paints First Ladies' clothing fabrics as indications of the women's choices for their image and their role in their husband's administrations.
In Nina Katchadourian's Mended Spiderwebs series, she documents her intricate repairs of broken spiderwebs in photographs and video. In the exhibited video Gift, the viewer witnesses Katchadourian spelling out the title word into a web using small thread letters. The spider persistently, and eventually successfully, picks out the letters. Katchadourian's attempts at infiltrating or "helping" nature are thwarted.
Maria E. Piñeres makes needlepoint that borrows imagery from pop culture, personal snapshots, and textile patterns, among other genres. She works mostly in freehand to recreate both a primary image and familiar textile-patterned background. The juxtaposition of the two parts allows for a relationship to develop between foreground and background, for which needlepoint inherently allows. Piñeres uses nostalgia to create new iconography.
Tucker Schwarz uses thread in a variety of methods to explore personal memory. She makes "drawings" with a sewing machine on canvas as well as installations in which thread and fabric are interconnected to create delicate and fragile structures. Schwarz is interested in the ability of thread to unravel and the disconnected aspects of memory for which the medium allows.
The collaborative Type A presents their first work in a new series of needlepoint. As their work continues to play with notions of predetermined concepts of masculinity and male relationships, Type A takes on a "feminine" craft and imbues it with the tropes recurring in their work. For this body of work, they cull images and phrases from found paraphernalia such as bumper stickers or shot glasses. The content is intensely masculine, yet is undermined through this medium.