Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art/Sewn at Asheville Art Museum

Recollection...terracotta (1), 2008
cloth, acrylic paint, thread
Courtesy of Elisa D'Arrigo and Elizabeth Harris Gallery, New York

On Saturday I drove up to Asheville NC to visit the Asheville Art Museum's installation of Art/Sewn.  This exhibition featured the work of 11 artists who incorporate stitch into their art work but who do not identify themselves as fiber artists or their work primarily through material or process.

The show was curated by Ward Mintz, Executive Director of the Coby Foundation in New York.  Mintz was approached by Hanne Tierney, the Director of Five Myles gallery, to select a contemporary art exhibition about women who sew.

I would love to be able to show you installation shots as well as examples of the work in this show but photography was not allowed.  I have, however, written about one of the selected artists, Elise D'Arrigo, several times so I have included a photograph of one of her works in the show.

The work of several of the artists stood out for me:  D'Arrigo, Hannah Chalew, Linnea Glatt and Emily Barletta. 

D/Arrigo's work was very strong, composed, tight and quietly commanding.  There were 4 pieces in the show all hung together on a free standing wall.  It was great to see them side by side.  The largest piece only 20 x 19 x 4 but the surfaces are so complex that the viewer is drawn right up to inspect each one.  There are qualities of nature, primitive masks, and architecture.  These are works to be viewed over a long period of time.

The work of Jessica Rankin gets the prize for obsession.  Currently a resident of New Orleans, Rankin works from observation of the post Katrina landscape, devoid of people but rich with vines and the process of nature reclaiming space and devouring man-made structures.

As someone who has lived most of my life in the south the power of fast growing vines isn't new to me or very interesting but there are aspects of Rankin's use of materials and process I really enjoyed.  Some of the work employed massive, isolated areas of machine stitching on heavy paper.  This stitching was done over very detailed organic drawings of houses/buildings.  The uneven stitching causes an uneven pull on the paper which writhes and buckles under the stress.  I could enjoy the paper and stitching without the drawing although I understand the importance of that for this artist.  

She also does some of the most delicate, painful, obsessive paper cutting I've ever seen.  If you visit  HERE and click on the link underneath the photograph of her work, you can see one of her cut paper pieces.  I had not realized these pieces were dimensional until I saw the work.  

The last artists I'll mention is Linnea Glatt.  Click HERE to see a full shot and detail of the work in the Art/Sewn show.  I was unable to find her website but you can go HERE to see a photo-stream of some more of her work.  Glatt's work is minimalist in nature using stitching on paper.  The work in the show was very spare with a circular grid with the intersecting lines marked with french knots.  All the thread was unseen except the knots.  Lovely.

Another artist working with stitching on paper is Emily Barletta.  If you receive the Surface Design Journal you will have seen her work featured recently in Making it in NY.  I wrote about this article HERE.   This work is also spare in that it is red stitching on a white ground but the ground is paper and the stitching is tiny and profuse.  I was much more impressed with the work after seeing it in person.  The handling of the paper must be very tricky to keep it as pristine as it is.  The work was installed flat on the wall with what looked like tacks with heads of paper or plastic that matched the paper.  Very elegant.

Those of you who live in driving distance of Asheville will enjoy seeing this show and if you do visit or saw the show at Five Myle, I'd love to hear from you as to your thoughts on the show.


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  1. Absolutely love that terra cotta piece you've shown here. And, because you mentioned it in an earlier post, I read my SDA Journal that had been sitting unopened on my desk. There are some fabulous artists out there doing some very intriguing things. Thanks for introducing us to some of them and reminding us of others!

    1. Thank you Vivien for your comment. It was very satisfying to see these artists in the museum.

  2. In a similar(?) vein, my ether buddy Robyn Gordon has posted a carved-wood quilt at

    very beautiful, check it out.

    1. Thanks Melanie. Robyn presents a wonderful blog and always has interesting and excellent work!

  3. Thanks for sharing this with us. It looks like a great show.

    1. Hi Lisa! It was an interesting exhibition and good to see. Thanks for commenting!