Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Textile Symposium Shows Reflecting the Metaphysical

by Sun Smith-Fôret

"Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing"
Jacoby Art Center, Alton, IL
August 26-October 2, 2011
"Lyrical Objects," Jane Birdsall Lander
William & Florence Schmidt Art Center, Belleville, IL
September 1-October 1, 2011

Most of the textile artists in St. Louis have known each other and each otherʼs work for years. We came up in our practices through Craft Alliance sponsored workshops, University Art Schools, graduate studies. We participate in local, regional, national and international exhibitions, studio visit, socialize, speak to each otherʼs classes, lecture for galleries, museums and alliances. We have been each otherʼs students and teachers.

Pat Vivod. Topographia. Shibori rust silk, digital Jacquard weaving-cotton (courtesy Laura Strand), wool roving for trapunto (courtesy Erin Cork), silk and rayon threads with a commercial wool blend felt back. 48”x51”. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

We have recognizable bodies of work, reputations as individual artists. A decision to collaborate is not taken lightly. It requires mutual trust and respect, a will toward invention, excitement and pleasure in the anticipation of an unconventional outcome.

Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing” curator Pat Vivod and gallery visitor viewing Jo Stealey's piece, Earth to Heaven. 2011. Linen, rust dyed silk organdy (courtesy Pat Vivod), devoré cloth (courtesy Laura Strand), processed leaves, thread, vintage doily, digitally printed cloth, waxed linen thread, antique yoke. 11"x15". Photo courtesy Andrew Dobson, Jacoby Arts Center.

Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing” at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, IL, curated by Patricia Vivod, is an example of successful collaboration in which the aesthetic marks of all participants are clearly evident yet the individual parts blend in a sumptuous and gently compelling chorale. (Gallery Talk September 25, 2 pm). Collaborating artists Erin Cork, Erin Vigneau Dimick, Nina Ganci, Jo Stealey, Laura Strand, and Pat Vivod are offering pieces which include traditional and innovative techniques and materials-shibori silk dyeing, wrapping, tying, felting, embroidery, jacquard weaving, patterning with processed hand gathered leaves, constructed cloth, vintage lingerie, 2- and 3-d construction.

Erin Cork. Collaboration with Erin Vigneau Dimick. 2011. Found antique doily (courtesy Erin Vigneau Dimick), yarn, naural dye, 12"x12"x4". Photo courtesy Pat Vivod.

Most works in the Jacoby show are meditative, insinuating themselves gently into our minds, minds which approach the works with thoughts about how and why objects come to exist. There is meaning from materials which retain their own essences and associations both historically and in a current atmosphere of postmodern use, disuse and meaninglessness, which is not the same as the Buddhist concept of detachment. There is meaning in the herstory of each artistʼs personal production. There is meaning in how the collaborations came about. What comes to the fore in this show is the play among the ideas of harmony, mindfulness, order, and invention. For me it is a palpable thrill to see evidence of the artist as seeker and finder, and as celebrator of the ineffable.

Erin Vigneau Dimick. (left) Second Bloom. 2011. Rust and tea dyed vintage nylon slip, 40"x16"x10"; (right) By Tradition Bound. 2011. Indigo dyed cotton ikat fabric and vintage nylon slip, 29"x21". Photograph by Pat Vivod.

Ascension, by virtue of merger with the art object, to a realm of Mind was in Northern Romantic sensibility, from Freidrich to Rothko termed “The Sublime”. Kandinski documented the search for the spiritual sublime in art in his seminal work of 1911 “Considering the Spiritual in Art.” Kandinski described the work of the painter (artist) as listening and knowing the effects of his/her craft “in order to produce paintings (works) which are not just the effect of a random process, but the fruit of an authentic work and the result of an effort toward the inner beauty.”

Gallery view: "Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing," with artist Laura Strand (left) and visitor. Artworks pictured: (foreground) Erin Cork. Collaboration with Jo Stealey and Laura Strand . 2011 Chair (courtesy Laura Strand), felted wool, gourds, 3'x1'3"x1'3". (background) Nina Ganci. Mobile. 2011. 10'x6'; (middle pair of weavings) Laura Strand. Stillness of Water - The Sun Rises and Stillness of Water - The Sun Sets. 2011. 48"x48" each; (far right) Erin Dimick. Herstory. 2011. Silk organza (courtesy Jo Stealey) & satin, cotton mull, gold leaf, Mulberry paper, maple, polyester thread, 24.75"x23.25". Photograph by Pat Vivod.

“Kandinski calls “abstract” the content that painting must express, that is to say this invisible life that we are. The Kandinskian equation can be written as follows: Interior =interiority = life = = pathos = abstract.” (Michael Henry, Seeing the Invisible, on Kandinski, p. 11)

Laura Strand. Arachne's Web. 2011. Dextrin over dyed cotton napkin, devoré over handmade paper (courtesy Jo Stealey), gold leaf,  24"x26". Photo courtesy Pat Vivod .

Another materially, spiritually and intellectually rewarding show on the east side of the river is Jane Birdsall Landerʼs “Lyrical Objects”, waxed-linen wrapped steam-bent wood sculptures at the William & Florence Schmidt Art Center on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College.

Landerʼs finely honed aesthetic engages us visually then conceptually, invites us to connect with our most primitive experiences of written language. Her exquisitely spare constructions concretize the presence of letters which were first thoughts. Again, these art works are products of an inner life seeking both outward expression and communion with the ideas and thoughts of others. If we did not seek connection with Mind at a deep level we would not make art or desire to imbibe, or breathe as Kindinski would say, the materialized but essentially spiritual thought of others (artists), or of the elemental principles available through art to pilgrims after truth, seen and unseen.

"Collaboration: Reaping and Sewing," remains on view at Jacoby Art Center, Alton, IL, through October 2, 2011. The Jacoby is located at 627 E. Broadway, Alton, IL. 618/462-5222. The Gallery is free & open to the public T-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 12-4 p.m.

"Lyrical Objects," Jane Birdsall Lander, remains on view through October 1, 2011 at William & Florence Schmidt Art Center, Belleville, IL. Lander's work is represented by Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, MO. The Schmidt Art Center is located on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College, 2500 Carlyle Ave., Belleville, IL. 618/222-5ART (5278). The Schmidt is free & open to the public T-W 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Th 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Sun Smith-Fôret is a practicing psychotherapist in St. Louis and a regional textile artist. Her mixed media textiles, drawings and paintings on the subject of movies over time have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions, including "The Final Cut,” her recent solo exhibition presented at Saint Louis University Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO (May 6-July 3, 2011). Sun's work is represented by Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, MO.

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