Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Forms & Fabrics Artist Talk/Reception

Greetings All,
Here's a slideshow from the artists talk and reception from Forms & Fabrics.  Enjoy, we sure did and the exhibit looks fabulous.

Also I have included an essay written by Linda Obermeyer about the exhibit. 

“Forms and Fabrics” exhibition
Mary K. O’Shaughnessy and Trish Williams
March 19-April 17, 2013
Presidents Gallery: Chicago State University

Craft’s relationship to fine art is a complicated affair.  Much of the discourse revolves around whether craft is or should be art, but this line of argument leads us nowhere. What is far more interesting is how art’s opposition to craft has created a space to create works which examine and question the very cultural constructs of race, gender and class that are tied to craft’s subordination.

Craft is a material process.  Objects are formed from the interaction between the material and one’s use of it.   These materials and processes have their own cultural read, which are far from neutral.  For example, in the United States tie dyed fabric may conjure memories of summer camp and hippie fashion, but the process has also been practiced in Africa for centuries, and therefore has a different connection for Africans.Our association with crafts is not autonomous.   In an era in which sight dominates and relationships are electronically built and nurtured, craft reminds us that touch is an implicit need.  To see the object is not enough, one feels the need to rub it, feel the texture, and weigh its heft to fully appreciate it.

The artists Mary O’Shaughnessy and Trish Williams have delved into this world of craft, working with processes and materials considered feminine in the United States.  They exploit the familiarity and seductiveness of these materials to investigate the construct of the feminine and its implication for the individual.

O’Shaughnessy’s work embodies memory, both in the object and the materials used.  While her work echoes classical sculpture, she is not obsessed with the notion of ideal proportions.  In fact, she is focused on the opposite, the reality that the female form is unique and in flux.  One woman may have large breasts and small hips while another is the reverse.  Using a dress form made for a particular individual, her sculptures retain traces of that person while incorporating layers of paper, fabric, etc. to form the sculptural shell.  With a wry sense of humor, she offers the viewer a portal to consider his or her own internal dialogue about femininity and the female ideal.

Williams brings together the rhythm of hand dyed and commercially made fabrics with the syncopated lines of her quilting to tell stories about jazz and the African Diaspora. While her textiles are steeped in the tradition of the story quilt, cloth-based narratives constructed frequently from scraps of clothing and other familiar fabrics to record history at a particular time and place, they are intended to be viewed on the wall rather than to dress a bed.  Her tales are for all to see and know, rather than for just an intimate few.

The artists of this exhibition challenge the status quo, refusing to accept the stereotypes forced upon them by society.  Instead, they question the very nature of these stereotypes using familiar forms and processes to hold the viewer’s attention.  Their layered and diverse approaches contribute to the history of craft while goading the canons of contemporary art.

Lindsay Obermeyer, MFA, MAT
Adjunct Instructor, Fibers and Art Education
March 2013

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