Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Material Studies

I have been hoping to see a bunch of the fiber shows happening all over St. Louis and write some mini reviews on my blog, but I am so busy myself that I just haven't had much time to write anything. However, I will post a brief blurb about the Material Studies show at Good Citizen Gallery, which opened September 4 and runs through September 26.

Material Studies includes works by fiber artists Erin K. Cork, Courtney Henson, Christine A. Holtz, Jessica May, Alicia Pigg and Jessica Witte. This exhibition "is a culmination of artists exploring the world of fibers in which the boundaries between art and everyday life are blurred by our familiarity with materials and hand-made processes... The show is full of highly charged artworks meant to challenge and inform our personal involvement with fiber materials and processes in the world today."

The show highlights a wonderfully diverse range of modern explorations into fibers, incorporating found object assemblage, performance art, installation art, video and more. Many of the works are quite ethereal and utilize natural objects, including my personal favorite: a floor installation by Jessica Witte of an elaborate "doily" of birdseed that could easily be swept away. I am especially interested in how Witte's work engages the viewer by involving him/her in the artwork through his/her avoidance of stepping upon it. I am also drawn to the reference to the Tibetan sand painting mandalas and the temporary nature of the piece. Another piece that begs for viewer interaction is Couch by Erin Cork, an altered sofa that has taken on an even more organic feeling. While I was at the opening reception, this artwork always had at least one (and often two or more) people sitting on it.

I especially find these interactions intriguing because I feel that viewers naturally connect to fibers in different ways than with other media and that such artworks further explore those relationships. Fiber art incorporates textural elements that are experienced visually and sometimes even tactilely (in those circumstances in which viewers are invited to physically handle and engage in the material). There is much rich history in fibers and textiles, from long before the development of fiber as a modern art form to the actual fiber artworks themselves, which are often painstakingly generated over time. And we all have very intimate relationships with fibers and are rarely without them, as is evidenced by our use of clothing, upholstery, blankets, shrouds, covers, curtains and more.

At any rate, if you get a chance to see the show, you should definitely do so. I only regret that I cannot make it to the gallery talk with as many other things as I have going on.

Material Studies
Good Citizen Gallery
2247 Gravois Ave.
St. Louis, MO
show: September 4 - 26
gallery talk: September 12, 2 - 4 PM


Jess Witte said...

Thanks for checking out the show and taking the time to write your reflections. I appreciate you comments.

ChaoticBlackSheep said...

Thanks so much. I'm very glad that I was able to come. It is a wonderful exhibition.