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Sonja Clark, Hair Necklaces (photo credit: Margaret Keller)

Good Shepherd, with a densely textured Christ head, seems to seek protection. Resistance is Useless covers dark wound-like holes with an impenetrable net of barbed wire and Man of Sorrows pastiches barbed wire, Gothic initials, a fledgling raptor and Christ onto another puffy, powerless arm. The interior struggle of good versus evil continued into the exterior world in the works of Mark Newport, who embroiders DC comic book covers of Batman, Batgirl, Catwoman and the Rawhide Kid. These heroes and heroines are filled in with tight stitches to become dramatic, universal silhouettes saving the world from crime. Also referencing justice, Sonya Clark’s works made of twisted human hair are carriers of history and identity. Clark intimately comments on black lives by using copious amounts of hair to create her Hair Necklaces. One, formed into a large chain, could speak of racial injustice, past and present. Another, shaped as a cord that begins with dark hair and transitions into white at the end, shows opposites, difference and aging. Her tall Ladder says volumes about striving to overcome or escape. These hair clippings, through intensive labor, transform into art of the most subversive and humble materials. Fiber continued at Duane Reed Gallery’s Four Entwined, with Jane Birdsall Lander, Katie Anderson, Jan Hopkins and Lindsay Ketterer-Gates. Lander’s three sculptures, all constructed with joined wooden snaths (gracefully curved scythe handles), waxed and painted linen thread, glass taxidermy eyes and sometimes incorporating stringed instrument pegs, push the boundaries of fiber. Siblings, Nest and Divining Child, all 2015, are three spare yet evocative abstractions. Visually, these suggest family and community. Siblings connects two parallel DNA-like forms punctuated by sharp points implying conflict and unease. In Divining Child, a single strand of wood seems to flex; viola pegs suggest changeability and resonance. At its end, a small hand centers an eye in its palm, giving it a knowing presence. All call forth the energy of relationships. Fiber here encompasses the full spectrum of art: the decorative, the conceptual, abstraction and realism. Yet tension remains between art and craft; the distinction continues. We still call this ‘fiber art’.

-Margaret Keller Jan Hopkins, Falling (foreground), Jane Birdsall-Lander, Divining Child (background), Installation View at Duane Reed Gallery (photo credit: Sarah Hermes Griesbach) IN REVIEW


All the Art, Winter 2015  

The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis

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