Tuesday, March 26, 2013

the alternate view:exploring contemporary possibilities

Heavy Metal, one of my quilts in the show

I love going to art shows, especially in "alternate", non-profit, non-institutional galleries.  We're lucky enough to have several here in Athens, Ga - a town steaming with artists, rock bands and retirees.  A strange mix!  but we're high on the "recommended" list for all three!
One of the better known galleries is ATHICA and I'm lucky enough to be included in their current show Worked described thus:

Work of art is an apt term, suggesting not only a process resulting in an object, but a labor and its attendant economies.  Worked (is) an exhibition highlighting the labor that goes into art making along with work that that addresses more conventional ideas about…well, work.

  Well, I don't know about that!  it all sounds a bit vague to me!  But it's an interesting little show, if somewhat sparse - just 12 pieces.  I'm used to seeing those quilt shows where quilts are hung on every inch of space including the attendants!    To my eyes, a couple of the pieces were a little derivative.  for example the guy that got inside a pegboard cubicle to do some kind of physical jerks (no I don't think That Kind!) of which a camera feed showed us totally untantilizing glimpses!  I think Marina Abramović did it much better!

Another derivation, perhaps a little more subtle was this work:
The shadows and light patches are just reflections....though I do think they add some interest!  Yes the work is very obsessive, but havn't we seen this before?  Didn't Agnes Martin make many obsessive graphite lines on paper?  And Sol Lewitt hire people to do this on giant walls?  - impressive, there, because of the size. So I'm afraid I didn't linger over these drawings - nor did I spend long looking at the fake concrete blocks though the children were having a lot of fun with them!  It is good to have art that kids can interact with which is not possible with most mediums - certainly not fiber.  I just cringe when people smear their greasy grimy sticky fingers all over my quilts!  but it happens - despite all the "please do not touch" signs!

full view

I did however spend a long time peering at Laura Tanner Graham's pieces. I really liked the combination of richness and freshness, plus the mystery.  You had to peer in closely to see if you could figure out what the story was.  Laura describes her work: "as a retelling of the consequences of excessive manipulation".  I guess many quilters can relate to that!  

 She also says: 
 "through the modification of domestic practices typically assigned to women my mixed media paper installations explore the contemporary possibilities of such crafts as quilt making from paper, ink, cotton, thread, latex paint, sewing needles, contact paper and Mylar".

                         and another close up

I do hope that the quilts I'll be seeing at Quilt National '13  will also explore those possibilities, instead of being either derivative or clunky imitations of the kinds of paintings produced by "sunday painters".  Of course I'll be reporting back on that show - which isn't till the end of May.

I also visited the MFA exit show at our local art museum this week and was happy to see several fiber pieces - I'll give a  brief review (with pictures!) next blog.  Suffice to say that fiber as a medium and quilts as a format are both alive and well in MFA programs!!

So, if you have been, thanks for reading!!  And, do please comment - you will be instantly more gifted and energized if you do!!!  Elizabeth


Nina Marie said...

Recently Paul and I took pieces to be juried for our city's largest art show. 900+pieces show up - all media accepted. I spent some time wandering the rooms of the art that had been brought in and I always think that they are amazing and interesting. Of course - the interesting never get in! That that really caught my attention? A crib mattress on the floor piled high with shards of broken white china. I have no chance of getting in but at least my entry fee will go to a good cause!

Elizabeth Barton said...

It's great that you entered! As you make more work and see more work, your chances of getting in will improve - also I think as the jurors see more quilts they will get to accept them as an art medium more and not look at them as "just quilts". We have two local all media art shows and they both received about 750 entries this year so competition is stiff! but persistence pays!!

Jackie said...

Interesting! I've not been to a show since February when I went to San Francisco with my daughter. We have an excellent art museum here, currently showing art from El Museo del Barrio in NYC.
On a different topic, You had mentioned, in a past post, about analyzing art for a new class you'll be teaching. Can you give an idea of how you go about that analysis or point me to a book that would help? I find that extremely intriguing.

Elizabeth Barton said...

I'm kinda feeling my way as I go along, Jackie. there are snippets about this in various art books but I don't think there's a complete book about it. Basically I'm finding myself working from the same sorts of items you would use to assess the strength of the composition: underlying structure, artist's intent, use of the basic elements - those sorts of things. The book I reviewed a couple of weeks back has some interesting ideas too: The Painter's Mind.
good luck!!