Opening Saturday, April 10, 7 to 9 p.m., the Armory Center for the Arts will present “Stitches”, a group exhibition exploring contemporary art approaches to the techniques of sewing, knitting and weaving. The exhibition will be on view through June 6, 2010 and is curated by Sinéad Finnerty-Pyne, Curator at the Armory. Participating artists include Jane Brucker, Lauren DiCioccio, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, Ruby Osorio, Titus Kaphar, Nuttaphol Ma, Ulrike Palmbach, Maria E. Pineres, Dinh Q. Le, Jim Richards, Elias Sime, and Nicola Vruwink. The exhibition will include two dimensional and freestanding sculptural works as well as large scale site-specific installations.
Previously exploring art deconstructed through cutting in her 2009 exhibition “Under the Knife”, Finnerty-Pyne now explores construction through various forms of stitching. From sewing to knitting, crocheting and weaving, “Stitches” highlights the visions and practices of twelve culturally diverse artists working with principles and applications inspired by craft, textile, and fiber art. The exhibiting artists share an unconventional approach to these versatile and often obsessive art forms by creating process and material-based works utilizing substances ranging from yarn and thread, to found objects and recycled clothing.
“Stitches” aims to illustrate the sophistication and complexity of work that has evolved out of the twenty-first century global curiosity with domestic practice – in some cases, descended from feminist practice in the last part of the twentieth century. The work in the exhibition stands in contrast to concurrent fascinations with slick fabricated and computer generated works. In a world where massproduction seems to have peaked, these artists, both male and female, embrace these once antiquated and homespun techniques and experiment with how far they can push them physically, metaphorically, and conceptually.
Drawing from cultural associations, Vietnamese artist Dihn Q. Le and Ethiopian artist Elias Sime incorporate the traditions and materials of their homelands into their work. While Le creates visually charged tapestries by weaving together images of the Vietnam War with stills from prominent movies such as Apocalypse Now and Indochine, Sime stitches abstract swirling patterns that relate to archeological sites near his home town.
Artists Jane Brucker and Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor incorporate recycled clothing in wildly different ways. While O’Connor stitches, stuffs and binds emotive yet humorous large scale sculptural characters from scrap fabric, upholstery and padding, Brucker unravels and then re-knits articles of clothing, a process that reflects the compromise and change inherent in life.
Installation artists Nicola Vruwink and Nuttaphol Ma will transform spaces in the Armory through site specific works. Nuttaphol alters a former ammunition vault into a piano room containing a loom (an homage to Claude Lévy-Strauss's critical view of the world upon his death and Tchaikovsky's last symphony, the Pathetique,) to create a space for meaningful dialogue about survival. Vruwink obsessively crochets thousands of feet of cassette tape, a humble and nearly obsolete material, into a wildly organic environment.
Ruby Osorio and Titus Kaphar coalesce stitching in their work with their primary mediums of painting. Kaphar’s work begins with copies of European and American portrait paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries that are reconfigured, cut up and then sewn together in strategic ways to create a dialogue about race, art, and representation. Osorio’s curiously romantic gouache-and-ink works incorporate thread and delicately explore themes of mythology with a feminine sensibility. Contrarily, Jim Richards woven paintings possess the all the components of a painting - wood, canvas and acrylic paint - but have been pieced together in a DIY manner to create a new hybrid object that contains elements of painting, drawing, and sculpture.
Through obsessive handiwork, Lauren DiCioccio, Ulrike Palmbach and Maria E. Pineres investigate the physical beauty of commonplace objects and consumer culture. DiCioccio recreates mass-produced media-objects - including newspapers, plastic bottles and bags -with transparent fabric and colorful thread to remind the viewer of these simple but nostalgically intimate pieces of everyday life. Likewise, Palmbach constructs playful yet emotive life-size interpretations of everyday machine-made products (such as milk crates and cardboard boxes), using pliable materials like army blankets and painted muslin. Maria E. Pineres’ cross stitch needlepoint illustrates the crash and burn masculine imagery of corporate-sponsored NASCAR racing automobiles, in ironically feminine variations of pink thread.
This exhibition will be on view in the Susan and John Caldwell Gallery at the Armory is at 145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, and will be open Tuesday – Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Suggested donation $5. Armory members, seniors, students, and student in Armory classes and their families are free. The Armory is easily accessible from the Gold Line Memorial Park Station in Pasadena. For information about Armory exhibitions and events, the public may call 626.792.5101 x122. or visit the Armory website at www.armoryarts.org.