It goes without saying that being in a gigantic exhibition space, with jaw-dropping work from more than 70 international galleries, bordered on sensory overload. But one gets into a rhythm navigating among the displays and the many observers, and soon becomes swept up in the sheer visual luxury of such an exhibition.
It’s no exaggeration to say that much of the work was mind-boggling in its intelligence and expertise of craftsmanship.
Anthea Walsh (detail) 2014 Hand embroidery, cyanotype print on linen
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Unfortunately photography was prohibited so I took a ton notes instead, and actually found it quite liberating to be able to just absorb the work, without the crutch of a camera as interpreter.
In lieu of those missed photos, I’ve scanned images from gallery booklets and web-links to give you an idea of what caught my eye.
While mulling over my notes afterward, it occurred to me that there was a recurring theme: many artists excelled at combining disparate materials, accomplishing a seamless pairing in such a way that a new “conversation” was begun which traversed the traditional confines of media.
The elegant silver and silk jewelry of Jeonghye Park,
which I mistook for blown glass upon first glance.
Trap_1, 2013 Hand-dyed silk, 925 silver, copper
Initially I was disappointed that there was comparatively little fiber work displayed, and the art seemed to be overwhelmingly weighted toward glass. However, it soon became apparent that references to the techniques and materials used within a textile practice were common, even among works that contained no fiber. Again, many of these pieces stressed the interaction and coupling of materials one wouldn’t usually expect to find together.
The upper half of Michael Bauermeister’s sculpture
appeared to have been laced together.
Negative Space, maple, aluminum, stainless steel, lacquer
34 x 8 x 8
34 x 8 x 8
A wooden bowl by Thomas Hopkins Gibson,
a wood-turner who uses silver to mimic stitches to “repair”
the natural cracks and faults in the “green” wood used in his pieces.
Whether intentional or not, I think this ongoing allusion to fiber art in general, and stitching in particular, speaks well to the power of textiles. It also acknowledges, regardless of medium, how deeply ingrained the intrinsic techniques embraced through textiles are in the psyches of many artists.
The work of Malcolm Martin and Gaynor Dowling
Stitched Bottle I, (MD2) Maple, silver, silk, 25cm
And be sure to check out the full-scale elephant masks
of Wendy Maruyama,
made of wood sections that are stitched together.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to transfer an image to this blog,
The delight of discovering these unexpected pairings of seemingly incongruous materials via a serious nod to the techniques we textile artists rely upon, left me feeling quite inspired by the possibilities that reside in stretching beyond the predictable, while still remaining loyal to the roots of fiber traditions. It's a virtual goldmine of artistic potential.
The challenge is to bring this idea back to the studio and to see where it leads.
- Elizabeth Fram