Unraveling Tradition: Contemporary Artists Working with Fiber Media in the downstairs gallery features artists from across the United States who convey contemporary ideas and concerns using traditional handwork techniques such as weaving, sewing, embroidery, felting, knitting and crochet. Focusing primarily on sculpture and installations, these artists use fabric, yarn, thread and various fiber media to create nontraditional objects and assemblages. The exhibition examines the resurgence of crafts in contemporary art, and how these processes are used in the service of communicating ideas, showcasing innovative uses of techniques and materials.
For example, Tristin Lowe (Pennsylvania) handcrafts exquisite reproductions of both animate and inanimate objects sewn from felt. Alyce Santoro (Texas) creates sculptures and garb made from sonic fabric, an audible textile woven from recycled, recorded audiocassette tape. Valerie Roybal (New Mexico) is creating a wall installation of embroideries inspired by the historical drawings of sea life and forms in nature by scientist Ernst Haeckl. Sara Hewitt (New Mexico) weaves grasses, bamboo and other fibers to create totemic sculptures inspired by traditional matts created by women in South Australia. Yelizaveta Nersesova (Texas) creates site-specific installations with thread to capture a liminal space. Jeri Zempel (New York) crochets covers for weapons and tools of destruction. Beili Liu (Texas) creates time and process based installations looking at transience, fragility and time lapse. And Loren Schwerd (Louisiana) creates memorial portraits of vacant houses in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina, made from human hair extensions of the type commonly used by African-American women.
“Using techniques associated with craft and decorative arts in an art context doesn’t in any way diminish or displace the claims the work can make on our imagination.” Says Howard Fox, curator of contemporary art for LACMA. Unraveling Tradition, which is curated by 516 ARTS, looks at these changing definitions and the new range of possibilities emerging from the blending of traditional fiber media and contemporary art.
Mandy Greer (Washington), Miya Hannan (California), Sarah Hewitt (New Mexico), Lisa Kellner (New York), Beili Liu (Texas), Tristin Lowe (Pennsylvania), Yelizaveta Nersesova (Texas), Ellen Rothenberg (Illinois), Valerie Roybal (New Mexico), Alyce Santoro (Texas), Loren Schwerd (Louisiana), Jerilea Zempel (New York)
Patricia Sauthoff, “Cool Threads” Alibi