Category Archives: Exhibits

Nick Cave – Treasures From Tchotkes

I caught the recent Nick Cave exhibit (Nick Cave: Feat.) at the Akron Art Museum on its next to last day. Much to my surprise, I was won over by his sparkly, glittery, tawdry junk shop filled pieces. It’s too bad I missed the community performances held as part of the exhibit.

The work on display seemed to fall into three categories: stationary 3D wall and floor pieces, sound suits which Cave wears for performances, and whole room installations. The work was created from 2010 to 2019. A video made for the exhibit showed Cave shopping for tchotkes at thrift stores, the construction of some pieces by a small army of workers, and clips of performances.

This detail of a large wall sculpture highlights the ceramic birds Cave likes to use. The base is a crocheted afghan, over which several layers of stuff are mounted. Cave said he uses bird statues because they were viewed as art in his childhood home.
Detail of metal tin lids from a sound suit.
Sound suit covered with thousands of buttons. Workers do the sewing.
Another sound suit that features bowls made with plastic beads and large safety pins. Such bowls were popular with crafters a while ago.
Room installation of painted bamboo curtains. I found the images showed up more clearly in photos than in person.

Here’s what Cave said about his work:

This work speaks to craft but exceeds the notion of craft. The materials allow people to connect personally, because we can all identify with objects that have surrounded us in our homes at some point. In that way, the work can be nostalgic, and there’s that moment when you realize you’re in a shared language with the people around you. The found objects bring out all kinds of personal history. They also raise the question of how we honor domestic crafts like crochet and needlepoint, which are becoming less and less a part of our day-to-day lives. I like celebrating these practices and things that have traditionally brought beauty into our lives.

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Fiberlicious

Every other year northeast Ohio is treated to a Focus: Fiber show, co-sponsored by the Textile Arts Alliance (TAA) and the Kent State University Museum. Since 2019 is an “on” year, I joined other art quilters on a tour of the museum’s latest show.

As always, the word fiber encompasses a wide array of materials, as the photos below show. Before I forget, let me mention the artists’ reception for the show will be next Thursday, March 21, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the museum.

The works above are made of conventional materials – yarn, thread, cloth, wire. Others in the show venture further afield to electric cords and metal. As always with unconventional materials, I’m left wondering if a work was chosen for its differentness or its artistic merit. You can judge for yourself if you catch this exhibit, which is up until July 28, 2019.

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Two Come Home, Another Goes Out

Forgive me if I treat my quilts as my children. I like to send them out into the world, to be viewed (and enjoyed I hope) by others. Last week “In The Clouds” came back to me after three years on tour with SAQA’s “Concrete & Grassland” exhibit.

“In The Clouds” is hanging on the far left at the Festival of Quilts in England.

In The Clouds

It traveled to China, Ireland, and England with the exhibit. It’s too bad I couldn’t go with it.

Another work that came home this week was “Sur La Table” which was in a regional art show. It was one of two fiber works in the show. The rest were paintings, prints, photographs and 3D works.

“Rococo” is the latest work I sent out. It will be exhibited at the Mid-Atlantic Festival of Quilts in Hampton, Virginia, from February 28 to March 3. I’ll have it back by mid-March, a mere month after I mailed it.

Why do I exhibit my work? If I spend lots of time designing, making and finishing a piece that I think turns out well I enjoy the ego boost (I’m being honest here) of having it chosen for public display. Many of my pieces I wouldn’t consider submitting. They’re too idiosyncratic, derivative, or off in some way. Of course, pieces I love others don’t; and pieces I shrug at others think are great. I’m still trying to get “Mean Streets” shown somewhere.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Immersive Art

The typical art museum or gallery experience involves walking the perimeter of a room, looking at 2D objects on the walls. Occasionally, there may be a 3D piece, placed so you can walk around it. But what if you were totally surrounded by and immersed in the art and had to wend a path through it?

In the past few months I’ve found a few such art works online. Some have videos that show how the installations were created. They gave a hint at what it must be like to experience the installations.

Talking Continents” by Jaume Plensa started me on this path. His upcoming exhibition at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, includes 19 stainless-steel orbs, each composed of die-cut letters and symbols from nine languages, which suspend from the ceiling to form bulging clouds topped with figures. The letters and symbols are arranged in no particular order for symbolic reasons.

Then I found Antony Gormley’s “Domain Field.” This multi-piece work consists of 287 sculptures in its total form. Volunteers aged from two to eighty-five years were molded in plaster by teams of specially trained staff. These molds were then used to construct the individual sculptures by welding the steel elements together inside each mold. Each piece was constructed from stainless steel bars in eight different lengths. Google Arts and Culture has a slide show of the work’s development.

In contrast to metal sculpture, red thread is the medium used by Japanese artist Chihara Shiota. Her 2018 London, England, exhibit, “Me Somewhere Else” filled a large room with crisscrossed strands of red yarn suspended from the ceiling, forming sacs and hanging strings that rise from a pair of feet. You can get a feel for the size of the installation in this video.

The video that accompanies Shiota’s work, “Uncertain Journey” shows a bit of the construction process, that takes many people and lots of warehouse type lifts. After the exhibit ends, the string is cut, and the artist says it now exists in the memories of people who saw it.

I have mixed feelings about such art, having been raised with the idea that “art belongs on a wall to be gazed at from a distance.” The only immersive installation I’ve been in was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors, and even there you’re viewing the work from a fixed viewpoint. Perhaps outdoor sculpture gardens give such an immersive effect. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation near Dumfries, Scotland, comes close to a controlled integration of garden and sculpture. Too bad it’s open only one day a year.

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Artistic Endeavors – Quilts And Real World Issues

Quilts often seek to evoke warm, cozy feelings associated with rainbows, puppies, and holidays; but some are deliberately different. They are meant to make the viewer question assumptions and possibly feel uncomfortable.

Most recently the Threads of Resistance show has been exciting reactions, but quilters were making social and political statements in the 19th century about topics like war, temperance, and women’s suffrage. The tradition has continued through civil rights, environmental issues, AIDs, refugees, gun control and other contemporary concerns.

AIDs quilt

Women’s Christian Temperance Union Bear Paw quilt

I addressed the social commentary quilts shown at 2018’s QuiltCon earlier. Here’s my favorite one, a tribute to Heather Heyer, the activist killed during the white supremacist march in Charlottesville last August.

Juli Smith B4U

I viewed the Threads of Resistance exhibit at the 2018 Sewing Expo in Cleveland, Ohio, after reading the printed warning about the graphic nature of some of the work. The exhibit was cordoned off, with only one entry point. I took photos of ones I thought combined a message and artistry. See all the entries here.

Get Woke – Julie Parrish

Seeking Refuge – Do Palma

Patriotism – Amy Sullivan

My Body, My Rules – Sue Bleiweiss
Nevertheless, They Persisted – Do Palma

The societal/political aspects of quilts are stronger than you’d think if you went only by what’s exhibited at many quilt shows. Part of the International Quilt Study Center’s website, World Quilts: The American Story, is devoted to engagement. Thomas Knauer posted an impassioned editorial about what he calls the whitewashing of quilts’ context

I looked over my work and found almost no topical subjects. I just don’t do what I call message quilts. But maybe I should. Let me end with a quilt I think, and others agree, epitomizes the use of quilting skills in service of a message.

Freedom quilt by Jessie Telfair, 1983




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Icing On The Cake

Last Friday night my husband and I attended the opening reception for a landscape art show called Against The Sky because my “Sunset On Main” was juried into the show. I was glad my piece overcame the attitude that a quilt can’t be art, though my piece was indeed the only fiber art in the show.

After I checked out all the other work in the show and had some lively conversations about my work, the show awards were announced by the show’s juror. He began with the honorable mentions, which I thought maybe I had a shot at. No joy there. Then third and second place works were announced and I thought it was enough to get into the show.

My jaw hit the floor when the juror awarded first place to “Sunset On Main.”  There was some talk about how a craft can become art, but I was too stupified to take in all the speech.

Here are the few photos I took at the show. The crowd didn’t seem to be taking pictures, so I snuck in just a bit of smart phone photography.

As you can see, there was lots of photography in the show; I’d say about half of the 69 works.

And what do I get as first place winner? – a certificate and a little sticker by my work. It’s a start.

Linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Taking A Gamble

Way back at the beginning of 2018 I set myself a few quilting goals. One was to have my work accepted in an art show, not just a quilt show. To that end I mounted “Sunset on Main” on a prestretched canvas in hopes that would appeal more to an art show juror. Such a presentation precluded any usual quilt show entries with their “must show your work” rules about quilt backs.

My gamble paid off when that work was accepted into Against The Sky, a juried landscape exhibition coming up at Summit Artspace from October 19 to November 17.

I’ll know more about the other entries after I attend the opening reception this Friday night from 5-8 p.m. From the few I saw when I took in my piece it will be an interesting mixture of media.

So, if you’re planning to be in downtown Akron on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday afternoons, stop by. Summit Artspace at 140 East Market Street is a block from the Akron Art Museum. Specific hours are 12-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 12-5 p.m. Saturdays. Special Artwalk hours are from 12-9 p.m. on Thursday, November 3.

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