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Te x t i l i t y


Te x t i l i t y


Joell Baxter Caroline Burton Sharon Butler Mary Carlson Jennifer Cecere Pip Culbert Elisa D’Arrigo Grace DeGennaro Barbara Ellmann Carly Glovinski Elana Herzog Marietta Hoferer Nava Lubelski Stephen Maine Lael Marshall Derick Melander Sam Messenger Sam Moyer Lalani Nan Aric Obrosey Gelah Penn Debra Ramsay Susan Still Scott Arlene Shechet Susanna Starr Leslie Wayne Ken Weathersby Peter Weber


Te x t i l i t y January 13 - April 1, 2012 Curated by Mary Birmingham & Joanne Mattera

Visual Arts Center of New Jersey


Material Means Diverse Practices, Common Threads by Joanne Mattera


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extility was conceived in Miami last December. That’s where Mary Birmingham and I, standing by chance in front of an Arlene Shechet clay sculpture with a surface that can only be described as velvet, noted the significant number of textile-esque works we had been seeing in booths and hotel rooms throughout the fairs: knitted paintings, painted quilts, metal tapestries and more. Our previously expressed desire to work together focused, then and there, on creating an exhibition of contemporary painting, sculpture and work on paper that had a connection to thread and cloth. “Textility,” a word we coined for this exhibition, describes a contemporary esthetic which draws from a textile tradition, or which exhibits a material presence or conceptual quality related to textiles. The exhibition brings together the work of 28 artists who approach their métier by material means: paintings and sculptures made with stuff other than paint, or conversely, paintings and drawings that reference fiber and cloth, some convincingly so. We’re not talking “fiber art” but about the way fiber has insinuated itself more broadly into the fabric of contemporary art. The work we selected falls largely into one of two flexible categories: Paintings Without Paint and Textiles Without Thread. A third category, Materiality and Process, allows us to consider idiosyncratic work in more specific ways. Arlene Shechet work installed in the Jack Shainman Gallery booth, Art Basel Miami Beach, 2010; photo courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY


Paintings Without Paint The interesting thing is that I started working on these paintings when I took a studio in the garment district. – Sharon Butler After a time, I dropped the stretchers and just pinned the constituent elements to the wall. This move brought planar abstraction into the realm of assemblage, and I found myself coaxing pictorial space into existence through sculptural means. – Stephen Maine I’m not a painter. My artwork is built with materials such as wax, paper, string, eggshells. Finding unique ways to manipulate these materials interests me. – Debra Ramsay Sharon Butler provides a bridge to Textility from conventional painting. With her patchwork UniQlo , Butler reminds us that canvas off the stretcher reasserts itself as fabric rather than disappearing into the substrate. She has stitched together both painting parts and rectangles of unprimed linen, allowing the painting and the non-painting, with their respective lozenge shapes and angular wrinkles, to collide and then resolve into conceptual and compositional détente. Stephen Maine’s geometric constructions of fabrics pinned to the wall are paintings made completely without paint. Mesh painting #11-011 is simultaneously toothy and diaphanous. You’d think the assertive grid would do the heavy lifting, but in fact it is the shadow that aligns the layers of materiality and sheerness into a hovering dimensional presence. Working more materially with felt, Peter Weber employs mathematical processes to fold one piece of fabric into a tactile painting—or is it a planar sculpture?—which suggests a woven grid. Then there is Mary Carlson’s translucent Ghost Flag . I think of this work as the anti-Jasper Johns, an object image as transcendent as Johns’s is resolutely material. If Johns’s encaustic flag is subversive as the idea of the object, Carlson’s is equally so, for hers is a painting that is a flag, even made according to U.S. guidelines for proper proportion. Let us also consider Drawing Without Pencil in this category. Debra Ramsay uses the linearity of tautly pulled threads to create immersive installations with mathematically determined proportions, such as the one in this exhibition. The exquisitely rendered works embody drawing, painting and sculpture, something her small drawings do as well. While Ramsay’s work is based on rule and measure, Gelah Penn’s drawings appear spontaneous and expressionistic. Seeing them, I think of the type of lace known in Italian as punto in aria , literally, a stitch in air . Penn’s drawings have nothing to do with lace, but everything to do with stitches in air, or as she would describe them, “the linear language of drawing in Stephen Maine, Mesh painting #11-011 (detail)


sculptural space.” In works such as Big Blackfil #1 , Penn creates gestural abstractions in low relief whose stitched and knotted monofilaments— punti in aria —tangle with their own shadows.

Te x t i l e s W i t h o u t T h r e a d My painting expresses the passion I have for the tactile nature of fabrics and their topographies. – Lalani Nan In these veneer pieces I am interested in exploring the nature of wood as a material. It is the lace image that transforms the wood by revealing both fragility and strength...contradictory, and quietly subversive, the doily has gone wild and the wood has been fully domesticated. – Susanna Starr I love the idea of weaving as a metaphor. The warp is the vertical direction, joining all degrees of existence. The weft is the horizontal; nature in time and space. – Grace DeGennaro Lalani Nan paints outsize portraits of fabric—satins and taffetas, whose folds reflect or hold light dramatically. It is impossible not to think of the European court painters, or the Americans such as John Singer Sargent, who conveyed the wealth of the sitters wearing fabrics such as these and, in a sly wink, their sensuality. There is no sly wink here. Nan’s paintings, like Gray , are out and out luscious. A similar kind of sensuality imbues Leslie Wayne’s work. Her paintings are objects, undeniably sculptural, and her intent is to evoke “the forces of nature” with tectonic movement, or the rush of water and wind. But the subtext, for me, is their textility. Wayne works like a dressmaker, gathering, ruching and draping her paint film, the sway of a skirt or the fall of a sleeve held forever in the moment. Barbara Ellmann paints patterns from textiles around the world. Her 12-panel installation— assembled from a larger multi-panel work—is her way of seeing culture not as a mass of disparate parts separated by geography, language and politics, but as a mutable patchwork of shared and related elements. Formally, her textile patterns relate to geometric abstraction. The geometry in Grace DeGennaro’s Weaving was inspired more specifically by the patterns of Navajo blankets. DeGennaro approaches pattern with a unique system of paint application that she describes as “beads.” These are dots of alternating color, often black and white, that seem to shimmer. “The image is conceived as symmetrical, but through the handmade process (in both the weaving and the painting) it becomes gently asymmetrical. I am interested in this humanizing of geometry,” she says. Susanna Starr, Dresser Doily (detail)


With her monumental wood veneer doilies Susanna Starr allows us to regard a quaint object in a new way, since she has altered its medium, enlarged its size, and reoriented its placement from tabletop to wall. One thing has not changed: the precise handwork. Rather than crocheting this doily, however, Starr cut into thin veneer freehand with a penknife. Notes Birmingham: “She injects a bit of ironic humor into her creation of Dresser Doily , since the doily in this case is actually made from the same material as a dresser.” From wax-painted rugs to bleached paintings to ink drawings of plain weave, there is a strong textile sensibility in Sam Moyer’s work. For this exhibition we have included an ink drawing in which the artist so convincingly captures the distinctive variations of a weave that it could well be considered a portrait. Also working on paper, but with a different perspective, Sam Messenger creates large-scale drawings in white ink on a black ink-washed ground which evoke billowing nets and fluttering veils, their size at thrilling odds with their apparent lightness. Arlene Shechet, whose undulating skeins of clay provided an unwitting catalyst to Textility , is here represented by a spiral of rope in cast and pigmented crystal. Coil is as luminous and fragile a form as its matrix was dun and pliant.

Materiality and Process Despite the various means by which artists have approached painting, sculpture and drawing in Textility , we may tease out of their variety some common threads.

Grid and Web The connection between modernism’s basic structure, the grid, and the rectilinear web made by the interlacement of warp and weft threads is rarely noted but eminently apparent. Both are foundations onto which more complex elements can be built, or which may stand alone as minimalist structures. Consider the cutaway quilt by Pip Culbert, Patchwork, Blue and Pale Blue . Stripped of its function as a covering, indeed as a cloth, it is as materially reductive a grid as you will see; consisting of seams, essentially, it must be pinned to the wall for support. Conversely, in 176 (twn) by Ken Weathersby there is a meticulously painted checkerboard skin—a fabric, if you will— stretched atop a multilayered grid. While Weathersby’s work is not textile in intent, it is built in ways that evoke fabric construction, from an inference of weave in the painted skin to the dimensional lattice evocative not only of textile structure but of the loom itself. If Culbert is the anti-quilter, Weathersby is the conceptual weaver. Joell Baxter, Endless Day (For G.M.B.) (detail)


Engaging the grid and implying a weave, Marietta Hoferer works with packing tape on paper. Snippets of black-lined tape, precisely cut and placed, create a pattern with an under/over rhythm. Nuance, reflection and inflection color her work, which like Culbert’s and Weathersby’s, is largely achromatic. Joell Baxter engages weaving fully. Working chromatically with papers she has screenprinted on both sides, she creates woven forms that are set onto the floor: “I am attracted to the idea of building a structure from the simplest parts possible, using the simplest process possible,” she says. Viewing these works, which Baxter sees as hovering between object and image, it is not difficult to make the conceptual leap from basketry to architecture, one grid to another.

Unapologetically Domestic What might have once been disregarded as “women’s work”—or more recently elevated as such—is now simply a means by artists of either sex to make art unfreighted with polemical issues. Weaving, stitching, folding, pressing and other laborious household processes have become choices within the making of contemporary abstraction, rather than alternatives to it. At first glance, Derek Melander’s three-column sculpture recalls the painted columns of Anne Truitt, but as you get closer you see they are created with a different means and intent. Melander’s columns are chromatic stacks of second-hand clothing. “As clothing wears, fades, stains and stretches, it becomes an intimate record of our physical presence... For me the process of folding and stacking the individual garments adds a layer of meaning to the finished piece,” says the artist. Carly Glovinski’s dimensional drawing, Untitled (dishrag) , and Caroline Burton’s tape-andthread wall sculpture, Untitled (tape 1) , seem cut from the same cloth. Glovinski lavishes time and attention on an otherwise unremarkable object, the lowly kitchen dishcloth, here rendering it almost perfectly in ink and correction fluid on paper; Burton’s pillow, constructed from tape over wire, has form but no function. Yet both works invite the viewer into a more intimate consideration of domesticity. Jennifer Cecere celebrates the domestic doily even as she creates her patterns on a computer and sends them out to be laser cut. “What interests me is that I’m taking something as personal and intimate as a handmade doily and making it large and public,” says Cecere, who has amassed a “huge collection” of doilies over the past 30 years.

Process With handwork there is the related issue of process. By its very nature, work done by hand was—and remains—time consuming and labor intensive. Once a necessary chore, it is now an option (at least in an industrial nation such as ours), the wonder being that so many artists continue to opt for it. Elisa D’Arrigo, whose pieced-and-stitched Byzantine Homage (1) is included in this exhibition, describes the path of her practice this way: “It is the physical process of making the


work that takes over, and has a life of its own. A work in progress could evolve for months, (even years); expanding, contracting, even recombining with castoff parts of itself. My objective is to stay in the moment, mindful of accident and chance, responding to what unfolds. The actual working with materials, and how that results in particulars of form and configuration, is what ultimately determines each piece.” With her embroidered paintings, Nava Lubelski alternates between what she describes as “the impulse to destroy and the compulsion to mend.” Hers is a productive dichotomy. Working with stained linens she has found, or with canvas she has stained and cut herself, such as Chance of Flurries , Lubelski then embellishes the blemishes with stitching and weaves lacelike webs into the voids. Sitting at a Thanksgiving table recently, I was struck by just how much her process owes to the handmade tablecloth, stains and all. Aric Obrosey’s meticulously rendered drawings depict complex nets and laces. Can these be imagined constructions? Anyone even casually acquainted with textiles would point out the variety of interlacements within a drawing such as his Untitled in charcoal. There is knotting and weaving, twining as used in basketry, and a type of knotless netting, sprang , that dates to the Bronze Age. Even the various strings are rendered in a variety of patterns, some as contemporary as bungee cords. Obrosey seems to have created a visual metaphor for the web of history.

Reworked and Repurposed The categories defined in this essay are mutable and intertwined. Butler’s patched fabric paintings, Melander’s columns of folded clothing, Lubelski’s reworked stains, and D’Arrigo’s recombinant sculptures could as easily be discussed here as elsewhere, but let me note instead the work of three other artists in this exhibition. Lael Marshall intrigued us initially with her Dishtowel Paintings , repurposed kitchen cloths she had combined and painted, but it was her Drama Queen that ultimately found a place here. Patched from various materials whose seams, textures and bulges are barely contained under a skin of green paint, it is a formidable presence softened by a languid ruffle that runs along one side. “Process is basically my driving force,” says Susan Still Scott, underscoring the fluidity of our category construct. Yet it is her inclusion of used and reused materials that seems to navigate a path to and through her sculptures, such as Slider . “Unsuccessful canvases will be taken apart and bring something of value to a new piece...The activity of using information supplied by the materials...is ultimately more important than knowing what it will ultimately turn out to be.” Elana Herzog, Untitled (detail)


Over the past decade, Elana Herzog has made much of her work with found textiles—“often bedspreads and carpets,” she says—which she has stapled to a wall. Herzog describes her materials and process this way: “Parts of the fabric and the staples are then removed and sometimes reapplied, leaving a residue of shredded fabric and perforated wall surface in some areas, and densely stapled and built-up areas elsewhere.” In her framed and wall-mounted works in this exhibition, the scale is smaller but the approach is the same. Her Untitled has an almost festive air, agreeably at odds with the destructive nature of its construction.

The Thread of Culture Until a generation ago, almost everyone had a hand in handwork. Women, especially, knitted, crocheted and embroidered, and girls learned by example. In a society rent by gender roles, boys were surrounded by handwork, even if they typically did not follow—except in maritime communities or in Boy Scouts, where they plied nets, made knots and strung lines. Perhaps there was a tailor in the family, or someone who made clothes out of necessity or pleasure. We, all of us, had a connection to the collective tissue of our lives. Of course we still wear clothing and sleep between sheets, but not everyone interacts consciously with cloth because we are now so removed from the warp and weft of it. Laundry? Maybe. Mending? Not so much. Who spins yarn anymore? Who weaves? Artists engage differently. We do. We make. Certainly the artists in this exhibition are makers. To paraphrase Scott’s description of her own process, they construct, disassemble, cut, glue, staple, repaint, stuff, squash and recycle. I’d add that the artists here also stitch, knot, weave, fold, rip, cast, stain, shred, drape, stretch, gather, layer and ply. Or they draw, paint and define space in ways that suggest those same actions and results. I suspect the attraction to materiality, to textility , satisfies our deeply ingrained need to extend ourselves physically beyond our fingertips. The artists in this exhibition, like many other artists working right now, continue to ply a thread—sometimes tangible, sometimes metaphorical—which has been spun continuously, consciously or not, from the very beginning of human culture.

Notes Quotes are from the artists’ statements with these exceptions: Joell Baxter, Sharon Butler and Grace DeGennaro in conversation or email exchange with the author; Susan Still Scott in conversation with Lynette Haggard: www.lynettehaggard.blogspot.com/2011/02/susan-s-scott-boston-artist.html

Joanne Mattera

is a widely exhibited painter who works in a style that is chromatically resonant and compositionally reductive. “Diamond Life,” her 26th career solo, took place at the Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, earlier this year. In New York City she is represented by DM Contemporary. Mattera’s work has been reviewed in Art in America , The New York Times and The Boston Globe . She is the author of the Joanne Mattera Art Blog , which has developed a dedicated following for its coverage of art and artists in New York City, the Miami art fairs, and elsewhere. Mattera is the founder/director of the International Encaustic Conference, which takes place in Provincetown, Massachusetts, each June. Recent curatorial projects include Luxe, Calme et Volupté: A Meditation on Visual Pleasure at the Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, 2007; BlogPix , at Platform Project Space, New York City, 2009; and Conversations , 2011, co-curated with gallery director Laura Moriarty, at the R&F Gallery, Kingston, New York.


S h i f t i n g D i m e n s i o n s i n Te x t i l i t y by Mary Birmingham


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n the half-century since Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) solidified the idea that art could be made from nearly anything, artists have explored a wide range of materials, often finding in them not only a means for making art but also a meaning. Today there is a particularly strong emphasis on materiality in art and a noticeable interest in textile-related materials and processes. Textility is an exhibition showcasing works by twenty-eight contemporary artists, with each piece possessing some material or conceptual quality related to textiles. The use of textile materials in fine art is not a new idea. Blinky Palermo (1943-1977) expanded the definition of painting with his 1964 series Stoffbilder (Cloth Pictures), comprising sewn pieces of commercially manufactured, solid-colored fabric mounted on stretchers. Rauschenberg’s combines integrated three-dimensional objects with two-dimensional paintings and often incorporated found textiles; his friend Jasper Johns described these assemblages as “painting playing the game of sculpture.” 1 During the mid 1960s Washington Color School artist Sam Gilliam (b. 1933) also drove painting in the direction of the sculptural object by showing large, unstretched canvases that highlighted the textile nature of the paintings’ fabric supports. Two other pioneering artists who effectively employed textile materials to address spatial matters were Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) and Fred Sandback (1943-2003). Using simple Sam Gilliam, Count on Us , 2009, acrylic on fabric and wood panel, dimensions variable, approximately 72 x 96 x 36 inches, courtesy of Marsha Mateyka Gallery, Washington, DC


ideas and minimal means, their work made profound statements about the viewer’s experience of the art object in real space, and the importance of that relationship. By the 1950s Fontana was puncturing and slashing through the surfaces of his paintings, calling his experiments Concetti Spaziale (spatial concepts). This action literally shattered the illusion of the picture plane and drew attention to the space behind the painting, introducing a third dimension into the work. Besides forcing the viewer to confront the painting as an object, the cut edges also revealed the woven structure of the canvas fabric. Sandback employed acrylic yarn to outline planes and volumes in space, a simple but groundbreaking innovation that enabled him to create vacancy and volume at the same time—sculpture that simultaneously exists and is non-existent. Sandback’s choice of yarn sets up an interesting, if unintentional, dichotomy between its aesthetic function as a line vs. its physical nature as a material object in space. Several artists in Textility provide new perspectives on ideas addressed by these earlier artists. Through their innovative use of materials—some unconventional but all having some connection to fabric or thread—they direct the discourse in new and interesting directions. Some make “sculptural” drawings and paintings; their use of such textile-related materials as cloth or thread to replace traditional components like paint and pencil transforms shape and line into three-dimensional elements. Others allow their materials an assertive presence that nudges painting and drawing in the direction of sculptural objects. Stephen Maine creates paintings by pinning mesh and other materials directly onto the wall. His layered approach disrupts the flat plane of conventional painting and reconstructs it as a three-dimensional composition—an “expanded” painting. The visual experience of the painting varies with the vantage point of the viewer. Seen from a distance, there is an optical blending of hues and a compression of forms that suggests a two-dimensional work; at closer range the tactile qualities of the individual elements appear more distinct and the three-dimensionality of the work comes into focus. Maine considers space a crucial component in his work and is excited by the mutability of that space, which shifts from pictorial to sculptural. Additionally, the mix resulting from the local colors of the overlapped layers, combined with the ambient color of their cast shadows creates what Maine calls “a chromatic environment.” His appropriation of space thus incorporates not only form but also color. Like Maine, Debra Ramsay is partial to unconventional materials; she combines Tyvek, glassine, bubble wrap, thread and pins to make her site-responsive wall drawing, Squarely

Installation view, Fred Sandback , David Zwirner, 2009, artwork © 2012 Fred Sandback Archive, courtesy of David Zwirner, New York, NY. Photo: Joanne Mattera Art Blog


Divided Times Two . Working within a pre-determined, rule-based system for dividing space, she begins with a square layer of material, divides it by covering half with another material, then adds a third layer that covers a different half of the original square. Each distinct material expresses a different type of line. Ramsay extends her layered drawing into space by using thread to connect points outside the established planes. She explains, “Using thread as a drawing medium has much in common with pencil to paper…a way to find a shape by searching with line.” She sometimes makes repeated passes with the thread, emboldening some lines with up to twenty strands and strengthening the shadows cast by the lines. Single threads may read like the pentimenti of “erased” pencil lines. Working with thread allows Ramsay to create three-dimensional drawings that are large, easy to accomplish and leave little environmental impact. Like Sandback’s sculptures, the work need not permanently occupy space; when it comes down Ramsay can turn it back into a spool of thread. Gelah Penn’s installations and relief drawings translate the gestures of drawing into a threedimensional format. Whether she makes site-specific installations or discrete works like Big Blackfil #1 , Penn is interested in the mark-making potential of her materials. She is drawn to monofilament, mosquito netting and other synthetics because of their inherent lightness, malleability, translucence and tactility. She explains, “It’s satisfying to eke out every possibility from these materials, e.g., taking an anonymous piece of plastic mesh and manipulating it until it becomes a spiky line with a sense of energy, tension, and perhaps a tiny bit of dread.” She likens her stitches to “psychic sutures,” an apt description for the way the monofilament punctures and knots the surface of the Yupo—a synthetic material with an almost skin-like tactility. Elana Herzog also suggests the idea of suture and skin in wall works she calls “sculptural drawings.” Stapling found textiles into the wall, the artist removes and reapplies some of the staples and fabric, leaving a residue of shredded fabric and perforations. As she describes it, the staples “act as mark and material, penetrating, distressing, and ornamenting the skin of the wall. The progressively dematerialized image, articulated by metal staples and fabric residue, seems to be simultaneously emerging from and disappearing into the wall.” (This visual ambiguity displays an interesting affinity with Sandback’s sculpture that seems to exist and not exist at the same time.) By deconstructing fabric, Elana Herzog calls attention to its means of construction, revealing strands of warp and weft. The staples also stand in for a kind of stitching, mimicking the patterns and weave of fabric. Her observation that elements can function as both materials and mark could just as easily apply to Penn’s snippets of mosquito netting and Ramsay’s thread. The juxtaposition of destruction and reconstruction present in Herzog’s work is also important to Nava Lubelski, who embroiders over stains and repairs rips that she finds or creates on linens and other textiles. She states: “My work explores the contradictions between the impulse to destroy and the compulsion to mend.” Lubelski is interested in the pictorial possibilities of thread, using it to outline the shapes of stains and drips and to enliven the fabric’s surface, but she also gives it a functional role, binding the edges of the holes. Lubelski employs a basic needle lace technique, loosely repairing some of the holes with delicate lacy


webs of thread. These peek-a-boo inlays function much like Fontana’s slashes, calling attention to the assertive materiality of the surface, while casting shadows on the wall that draw attention to the space behind the painting. The use of shadows has been an important element for each of the artists discussed here, helping to underscore the threedimensional nature of the objects they have made. There are several other artists in Textility whose choices of materials push their work toward sculpture, even though they are all technically paintings. Lael Marshall and Susan Still Scott each engage in an interesting dialogue between painted sculpture and sculpted painting, resulting from their hybridized mix of textile materials and traditional painting media. Marshall’s Drama Queen rests on the floor but leans against the wall, in effect keeping a “foot” in both camps—the arenas of painting and sculpture. While Scott’s Slider is a three-dimensional sculpture in the round, its draped and painted fabric elements maintain a connection to painting. (It is tempting to interpret the work’s title as an apt description of an object that easily slides between painting and sculpture.) Ironically, Leslie Wayne’s One Big Love # 46 contains no actual textile elements—not even a canvas support; the physicality of her paint has such a material presence that it resembles the folded edges of draped fabric. In its own way each of these works has an interesting affinity with the work of Sam Gilliam, whose exuberant paintings on unstretched canvas acknowledge and even celebrate the sculptural quality of cloth. Several wall-oriented works match Johns’s aforementioned description of “painting playing the game of sculpture.” Peter Weber utilizes folding as a process that, once completed, transforms a flat piece of felt into a “woven” sculptural object. Weber explains his attraction to this material: “Felt is by far the most powerful for me, since this material is very repellent against my folding ideas. So it is a great challenge for me to ‘conquer’ the material.” Elisa D’Arrigo constructed her Byzantine Homage (1) by stitching together a multitude of rectangular cloth pieces. The seams connecting the pieces form a network of stitched lines that creates a drawing in thread; D’Arrigo’s stitching puckers the

Top: Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept: Expectations , 1960, Slashed canvas and gauze, 39½ x 31 5/8 inches, Gift of Philip Johnson, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A. Digital image: © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY; © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome Bottom:

Ken Weathersby, 179 (twn) (one panel of diptych)


seams and animates the separate cloth elements, coaxing the surface into a kind of threedimensional mosaic. Ken Weathersby deconstructs painting’s physical components, interrupting the expected relationships among wooden stretcher, canvas, and painted image. A cutaway section on his diptych, 179 (twn) , reveals a gridded wooden network that suggests the warp and weft structure of weaving and also references the wooden stretcher bars. If Fontana cut his canvas to reveal the space behind the painting, Ken Weathersby seems to dissect his, displacing, inserting, and reversing sections. He explains, “I am working with the space created when the parts of paintings are dislodged from their usual roles.” The artists in Textility often disrupt expectations. They utilize unconventional materials, sometimes in unorthodox ways. They challenge us to look twice at objects and materials that have one set of associations and meanings in our everyday lives and completely different applications as artworks. A thread can be a line as well as an object; the viewer who follows it will discover there is art in textility.

Notes 1

Quoted on gallery label text for Robert Rauschenberg, Rebus , 1955, The Museum of Modern Art, http://www.moma.org/search/collection?query=rebus, retrieved November 28th, 2011.

Quotes are from the artists’ statements with additional information provided by Stephen Maine, Gelah Penn, and Debra Ramsay in conversation or email exchange with the author.

Mary Birmingham

is Curator at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.


Works in Exhibition


Joell Baxter Endless Day (For G.M.B.) ,

2011 Screenprinted paper, glue 5 x 46 x 46 inches Courtesy of the artist


Caroline Burton Untitled (tape 1) ,

2006 Tape, thread, wire, metal 12½ x 10 x 2½ inches Courtesy of the artist and Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY


Sharon Butler UniQlo , 2011 Silver Krylon spray paint, pigment, urethane, pencil and sewing on unstretched gessoed canvas and unprimed linen 66 x 50 inches Courtesy of the artist


Mary Carlson Ghost Flag ,

2007 Sewn sheer fabric 123 x 70 inches Courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY


Jennifer Cecere MOTHER

(detail), 2011 Ripstop nylon 96 inches diameter Courtesy of the artist


Pip Culbert Patchwork, Blue and Pale Blue ,

2011 Cotton and pins 41 x 27 inches Courtesy of Fouladi Projects, San Francisco, CA


Elisa D’Arrigo Byzantine Homage (1) ,

2005 Cloth, acrylic paint, thread 35 x 35 x 3 inches Courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY


Grace DeGennaro Weaving ,

2007 Oil on linen 26 x 16 inches Courtesy of Aucocisco Gallery, Portland, ME


Barbara Ellmann WHEREWITHALL , 2011 Encaustic on twelve wood panels 24 x 24 inches each Courtesy of the artist


Carly Glovinski Untitled (dishrag) ,

2010 Ink, correction fluid on paper 16 x 9 x 6½ inches Courtesy of June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland, ME


Elana Herzog Untitled , 2011 Wood, metal staples, textile 33 x 34 x 3 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY


Marietta Hoferer B,

2011 Pencil and transparent tape with black line on paper 21 x 21 inches Courtesy of the artist


Nava Lubelski Chance of Flurries ,

2011 Thread on stained canvas 46 x 36 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY


Stephen Maine Mesh painting #11-011 ,

2011 Acrylic, paper, plastic mesh, thermal insulation, T-pins 36 x 36 x 6 inches (overall) Courtesy of the artist


Lael Marshall Drama Queen , 2010 Oil and acrylic on various materials 92 x 75 inches Courtesy of the artist


Derick Melander The Painful Spectacle of Finding Oneself , Second-hand clothing, wood and steel 72 x 12 x 12 inches each Courtesy of the artist

2010


Sam Messenger Veil from Alpheus , 2011 Pen & ink, ink wash, starch paste, and river water on paper 64 x 59 inches Private collection, courtesy of Davidson Contemporary, New York, NY


Sam Moyer Close Screen ,

2011 India ink on paper 22 x 30 inches Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY


Lalani Nan Gray ,

2006 Oil on linen 52 x 48 inches Courtesy of Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY


Aric Obrosey Untitled ,

2006 Charcoal on paper 30 x 22½ inches Courtesy of the artist and McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY


Gelah Penn Big Blackfil #1 , 2010 Monofilament, mosquito netting, plastic mesh, acrylic and graphite on Yupo 60 x 38 x 6 inches Courtesy of the artist


Debra Ramsay Squarely Divided, Times Two

(detail), 2012 Site-specific wall drawing Thread, Tyvek, glassine, bubble wrap, acrylic paint, pins Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist and MINUS SPACE, Brooklyn, NY


Susan Still Scott Slider , 2010 Acrylic, flashe and enamel paint on canvas, cotton duck, and wood with staples, wire, polyfil fiber 57 x 31 x 16 inches Courtesy of Kingston Gallery, Boston, MA


Arlene Shechet Coil ,

2004-07 Cast and pigmented crystal 8½ x 25 x 7 inches Edition 2 of 3 Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY


Susanna Starr Dresser Doily , 2005 Hand-cut mahogany wood veneer 70 x 47 inches Courtesy of the artist and Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, GA


Leslie Wayne One Big Love #46 ,

2010 Oil on wood 14 x 11 inches Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY


Ken Weathersby 179 (twn) , 2010 Acrylic paint film with removed areas over wood scaffold over linen 2 panels, 24 x 19 inches each Courtesy of the artist


Peter Weber Vernetzung BL6(9) ,

2009 Felt 20½ x 20½ inches Courtesy of Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM and Galerie Renate Bender, Munich, Germany


Joell Baxter

Endless Day (For G.M.B.) , 2011 Screenprinted paper, glue 5 x 46 x 46 inches Courtesy of the artist

Caroline Burton

Untitled (tape 1) , 2006 Tape, thread, wire, metal 12½ x 10 x 2½ inches Courtesy of the artist and Accola Griefen Gallery, New York, NY

Sharon Butler UniQlo , 2011

Silver Krylon spray paint, pigment, urethane, pencil and sewing on unstretched gessoed canvas and unprimed linen 66 x 50 inches Courtesy of the artist

Mary Carlson Ghost Flag , 2007

Sewn sheer fabric 123 x 70 inches Courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY

Jennifer Cecere MOTHER , 2011

Ripstop nylon 96 inches diameter Courtesy of the artist

Exhibition Checklist

Pip Culbert

Patchwork, Blue and Pale Blue , 2011 Cotton and pins 41 x 27 inches Courtesy of Fouladi Projects, San Francisco, CA

Elisa D’Arrigo

Byzantine Homage (1) , 2005 Cloth, acrylic paint, thread 35 x 35 x 3 inches Courtesy of Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York, NY

Grace DeGennaro Weaving , 2007 Oil on linen 26 x 16 inches

Trinity , 2009 Watercolor on paper 30 x 22 inches

Trinity #2 , 2009 Watercolor on paper 30 x 22 inches

Trinity #4 , 2009 Watercolor on paper 30 x 22 inches All works courtesy of Aucocisco Gallery Portland, ME

Barbara Ellmann

WHEREWITHALL , 2011 Encaustic on twelve wood panels 24 x 24 inches each Courtesy of the artist

Carly Glovinski

Untitled (dishrag) , 2010 Ink, correction fluid on paper 16 x 9 x 6½ inches Courtesy of June Fitzpatrick Gallery, Portland, ME

Elana Herzog Untitled , 2011

Wood, metal staples, textile 33 x 34 x 3 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY

Untitled (P8) , 2010 Handmade abaca paper, textile 11 x 14 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY

Untitled (P15) , 2010 Handmade cotton paper, textile 16 x 12 inches Private collection, The Netherlands

Untitled (P5) , 2010 Handmade cotton and abaca papers, textile 16½ x 16 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY


Untitled (P16) , 2010 Handmade cotton paper, textile 14 x 11 inches Private collection, New York, NY

Marietta Hoferer B , 2011

Pencil and transparent tape with black line on paper 21 x 21 inches Courtesy of the artist

Nava Lubelski

Chance of Flurries , 2011 Thread on stained canvas 46 x 36 inches Courtesy of LMAKprojects, New York, NY

Stephen Maine

Mesh painting #11-011 , 2011 Acrylic, paper, plastic mesh, thermal insulation, T-pins 36 x 36 x 6 inches (overall)

Pitched planes #56 , 2001 Monoprint 25 x 18 inches

Pitched planes #61 , 2001 Monoprint 25 x 18 inches

Pitched planes #133 , 2004 Monoprint 24 x 19 inches

Pitched planes #139 , 2004

Derick Melander

Susan Still Scott

Second-hand clothing, wood and steel 72 x 12 x 12 inches each Courtesy of the artist

Acrylic, flashe and enamel paint on canvas, cotton duck, and wood with staples, wire, polyfil fiber 57 x 31 x 16 inches Courtesy of Kingston Gallery, Boston, MA

The Painful Spectacle of Finding Oneself , 2010

Sam Messenger

Veil from Alpheus , 2011

Arlene Shechet

Pen & ink, ink wash, starch paste, and river water on paper 64 x 59 inches Private collection; courtesy of Davidson Contemporary, New York, NY

Coil , 2004-07

Cast and pigmented crystal 8½ x 25 x 7 inches Edition 2 of 3 Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY

Sam Moyer

Susanna Starr

Close Screen , 2011

Dresser Doily , 2005

India ink on paper 22 x 30 inches Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY

Hand-cut mahogany wood veneer 70 x 47 inches Courtesy of the artist and Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, GA

Lalani Nan

Leslie Wayne

Gray , 2006

One Big Love #46 , 2010

Oil on linen 52 x 48 inches Courtesy of Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY

Oil on wood 14 x 11 inches Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY

Aric Obrosey

Ken Weathersby

Untitled , 2006

179 (twn) , 2010

Charcoal on paper 30 x 22½ inches Courtesy of the artist and McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY

Acrylic paint film with removed areas over wood scaffold over linen Two panels, 24 x 19 inches each Courtesy of the artist

Monoprint 24 x 19 inches

Gelah Penn

Pitched planes #141 , 2004

All works courtesy of the artist

Monofilament, mosquito netting, plastic mesh, acrylic and graphite on Yupo 60 x 38 x 6 inches Courtesy of the artist

Lael Marshall

Debra Ramsay

Monoprint 24 x 19 inches

Drama Queen , 2010 Oil and acrylic on various materials 92 x 75 inches Courtesy of the artist

Slider , 2010

Big Blackfil #1 , 2010

Squarely Divided, Times Two 2012 Site-specific wall drawing Thread, Tyvek, glassine, bubble wrap, acrylic paint, pins Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist and MINUS SPACE, Brooklyn, NY

Peter Weber

Vernetzung BL6(9) , 2009 Felt 20½ x 20½ inches Courtesy of Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM and Galerie Renate Bender, Munich, Germany


Acknowledgements Textility , the Art Center’s first exhibition of 2012, focuses on materials, process and appearance. In other words there are few hidden meanings and messages in these works. In “art-speak” one would say they are self-referential, perhaps even self-conscious because they draw the viewer in by exploiting the art-making process. They ask you to take in the entire work but then look really close at what the artist did to make the work. I know you will enjoy engaging with each piece in this wonderful exhibition, as I did. I am most grateful to the exhibiting artists as well as to those individuals and galleries who lent works to this exhibition. I want to particularly thank our Co-Curators Joanne Mattera and our own Mary Birmingham for helping us expand our understanding and appreciation of contemporary art through this exhibition. I would also like to thank our Exhibitions Manager Katie Murdock, Design & Publications Coordinator Kristin Maizenaski, Exhibition Associate Yadira Hernandez, and my entire staff for their hard work and commitment to all that we do. I extend my special gratitude to our Board of Trustees who continue to support all of our efforts.

Marion Grzesiak Executive Director Visual Arts Center of New Jersey Gelah Penn, Big Blackfill #1 (detail)


Visual Arts Center of New Jersey B o a r d o f Tr u s t e e s

Staff

Rachel Weinberger, Chair Jim Welch, Vice Co-Chair John J. DeLaney, Vice Co-Chair Jay L. Ludwig, Secretary Sarah Johnson, Treasurer

Marion Grzesiak, Executive Director

Patricia A. Bell Marie J. Cohen Millie Cooper Kelly J. Deere Ellyn Dennison Keith C. Dolin Malcolm D. Knight David McLean Victor Nichols Mary-Kate O’Hare Mitchell Radin Jenny Reinhardt Lacey Rzeszowski Ann Schaffer Laura Schaffer R. Malcolm Schwartz Pamela Shipley Elisa Zachary

Founding Visionary William B. Nicholson

H o n o r a r y Tr u s t e e s Sally Abbott Shirley Aidekman-Kaye Dr Virginia Butera Millie Cooper Elizabeth C. Gump Marion Nicholson Joseph R. Robinson Roland Weiser Sue Welch

Mary Birmingham, Curator Mari D’Alessandro, Director of Programs & Communications Ernie Palatucci, Director of Finance & Operations Nancy Shannon, Director of Development Rupert Adams, Building Superintendent Vanessa Batista, Studio School Manager Fabiana Bloom, Membership & Special Events Manager Cara Bramson, Programs Manager Jen Doninger, Customer Relations Associate Deborah Farley, Customer Relations Associate Monica Finkel, Operations Manager Jessica Gardner, Membership & Special Events Associate Yadira Hernandez N., Exhibitions Associate Bruce Lyons, Communications & Marketing Manager Kristin Maizenaski, Design & Publications Coordinator Amber Nelson, Studio School Associate Alice Mateychak, Customer Relations Associate Teresa Mendez, Customer Relations Associate Katherine Murdock, Exhibitions Manager Leon Norris, Custodian Lisa Owens, Customer Relations Associate Barbara Smith, Registrar Pat Tiedeman, Accountant Lan Wei, Bookkeeper


68 Elm Street, Summit, NJ 07901 908.273.9121 www.artcenternj.org Gallery Hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday: 10 am – 5 pm Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm Saturday & Sunday: 11 am – 4 pm Photography Credits Joell Baxter: Photography by Alyssa Gorelick Grace DeGennaro: Photography by Luc Demers Barbara Ellmann: Photography by Peter Chin Sam Messenger: Photography by Sam Messenger Lalani Nan: Photography by Steve Georges at Park Lane Photo Gelah Penn: Photography by Etienne Frossard Debra Ramsay: Photography by Andy Wainwright Arlene Shechet: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY Leslie Wayne: Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY Peter Weber: Photography by Peter Weber Colophon Design by Kristin Maizenaski Printed by Prestige Color © 2012, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey ISBN: 978-0-925915-39-9 Major support for the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the WJS Foundation, Audrey & Zygi Wilf and the Wilf Family Foundation, and Art Center members and donors. To learn more about Art Center programs, visit our website at www.artcenternj.org or call 908.273.9121.


Textility  

Some artists in the exhibition appropriate materials and techniques associated with fiber arts, using cloth or thread in place of paint or p...

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