Thursday, August 26, 2010

ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions
An International Exhibition

Marie-Therese Wisniowski (Curator's Talk)

Preamble
This blogspot contains many posts of artworks that have featured in a number of exhibitions that have been curated by me or by other people. For your convenience I have listed these posts below.
Sequestration of CO2(Engaging New Visions) M-T. Wisniowski
Sacred Planet I (Engaging New Visions) J. Dunnewold
Under Pressure (Engaging New Visions) L.A. Beehler
lo Rising II & Giza (Engaging New Visions) R. Benson
Etruscan Relic (Engaging New Vision) J. Raffer Beck
Catch The Light 1 & 2 (Engaging New Visions) J. Schulze
Emerge (Engaging New Visions) J. Truckenbrod
Breathe Deeply (Engaging New Visions) C. Benn
Die Gedanken Sind Frei 3 & 4 (Engaging New Visions) C. Helmer
Black Birds I & II (Engaging New Visions) C. Holmes
Autumn Visions I & II (Engaging New Visions) J. Petruskeviciene
Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw (Engaging New Visions) N. Starszakowna
Quite Alone Oasis… (Engaging New Visions) J. Urbiene
Nothing Is The Same I & II (Engaging New Visions) E. van Baarle
Discharge Thundercloud (Engaging New Visions) K. Kagajo
Shroud Of Ancient Echoes I & II (Engaging New Visions) S. Fell-McLean
Cane Toad Narrative (Engaging New Visions) H. Lancaster
Visionary and Eclipse (Engaging New Vision) J. Ryder
Untitled ArtWorks (Engaging New Vision) Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley and Tjunkaya Tapaya
Treescape (Engaging New Vision) A. Trevillian
Codes – Lost Voices (ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art (Art Exhibition) Various Artists
Merge and Flow (SDA Members Exhibition) M-T. Wisniowski
Confluence (SDA Conference) Various Artists
Transformation (Fairfield Museum and Art Gallery) Various Artists
The Journey (Megalo Studio) M-T. Wisniowski
Another Brick (Post Graffiti ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
Six Memos (Shepparton Art Gallery) S. Fell-MacLean
Venice Biennale (Art Exhibition) Various Artists
When Rainforests Ruled (Purple Noon Art & Sculpture Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
Floating (Purple Noon Art & Sculpture Gallery) H. Lancaster
When Rainforests Glowed (Eden Gardens Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
My Southern Land (Galerie 't Haentje te Paart, Netherlands) M-T. Wisniowski
The Last Exhibition @ Galerie ’t Haentje the Paart
Paste Modernism 4
El Anatsui
Mark Making on Urban Walls – Post Graffiti Art Work
Memory Cloth - Rememberings in Textile
Make Lace Not War - Part I
Fleeting


ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions
ArtCloth is an emerging art form. Over recent years I have noticed contemporary fabrics are undergoing a metamorphosis into fabrics of fine art. This inaugural international exhibition is a snap shot of the current international Art Cloth movement.

It is seventy-seven years since the Bauhaus closed its doors. Spreading across a number of continents, its proponents were inculcated with a design theory (and with the subsequent style sheets) that revolutionized industrial textile designs.

Recently, I wanted to expose contemporary fine art cloths, since it is resurfacing and gaining significant momentum in North America, Europe, England, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. This inaugural international Art Cloth exhibition was purposely built to expose this momentum to Australian art practitioners, academics, critics and to the public at large.

In putting together an “Art Cloth” exhibition my challenge for each of the “selected” artists was simple: to create a new Art Cloth work (or send a completed work) consistent with the theme - Art Cloth: Engaging New Visions. Furthermore, to add a coherency to the exhibition presentation, each artist was asked to provide an Art Cloth piece approximately one meter wide and three meters in length. Techniques were suggested, but not demanded.

Selecting the artists was far more problematic. There are numerous artists whose qualifications in producing fine art cloths demand that they should be selected. For this exhibition those invited needed to be representative of a much larger cohort that could not be materially present. Moreover, the work needed to span continents!

From the USA we invited Laura Beehler, Regina Benson, Jane Dunnewold, Jeanne Raffer Beck, Joan Schulze, and Joan Truckenbrod. From Europe we invited Claire Benn  (England), Claudia Helmer (Germany), Cas Holmes (England), Jurate Petruskeviciene (Lithuania), Norma Starszakowna (Scotland), Jurate Urbiene (Lithuania) and Els van Baarle  (The Netherlands). From Asia Ken Kagajo (Japan) was invited and from Australia the Gallery gave invitations to Susan Fell-McLean, Helen Lancaster, Julie Ryder, Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley (Ernabella Arts), Tjunkaya Tapaya (Ernabella Arts), Annie Trevillian and myself.

Twenty-one artworks were exhibited. The exhibition showcase’s artworks that explore innovative print, mixed media and stitch techniques. The exhibited works are as diverse as their makers, ranging from digital technology, dye sublimation, snow and hydrosulfite discharge, glazes and patinations, deconstructed screen printing, photography, itajime and mokume shibori, paper and cloth lamination, found materials, natural dyes, batik, piecing and stitching.

There is a coherent art movement that springs from the sub-consciousness of the aboriginal artists from Ernabella Arts. Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley’s and Tjunkaya Tapaya’s silk batik artworks, Untitled, emanate from their mythological and practical associations with the Australian landscape. The continuity of over 60,000 years of a “presence” yields a natural coherency that cannot be divorced from their artistic existence.

Deconstructed artworks of cultural, emotional and psychological frameworks play an important role in this exhibition. This grouping embraces the following artists. Norma Starszakowna’s Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw was inspired by tracing her father’s footsteps and so, visiting the Warsaw Ghetto, where the physical walls were in reality psychological walls of segregation. Els van Baarle’s Nothing Is The Same I & II, is inspired by antiquity and ancient times, the layers reveal a strong connection to bygone peoples and cultures. Jeanne Raffer Beck’s Etruscan Relics deconstructs the linear structure of text and incorporates invented letterforms that become their own visual language. Laura Beehler’s Under Pressure probes how ArtCloth makes demands of waiting, of patience, and of time, correlating the process to the formation of precious metal. Claire Benn’s Breathe Deeply is an artistic probe to breathe deeply and find a space of stillness. Cas Holmes’ Black Birds I & II examines the ambiguity of external references combined with personal experiences within a broader cultural context of land and people. Claudia Helmer’s Die Gedanken Sind Frei 3 & 4 explores the concept that no constraints will diminish your freedom to think.

Digital explorations are fast becoming a tour de force in constructing fine art fabrics. This tool may evoke vastly different marks of art and reactions. Nevertheless, these artworks have a coherency that reflects its use. In this group are the following artists. Joan Truckenbrod’s Emerge explores the intersection between the underlying scientific processes and personal interpretations of these natural manifestations. Joan Schulze’s Catch the Light I and 2 focuses on the way light shifts and changes the appearance of ordinary things and places. You all should note that Joan Schulze is a famous American art quilter who has moved in the Art Cloth arena. Jane Dunnewold’s Sacred Planet I: The Myth of Human Superiority was inspired by reflections from the glass cases in the Perth Museum that lent an eerie quality, as if the inhabitants of the cases vanished into thin air. Annie Trevillian’s Treescape is a combination of drawings and screen prints on card and a digital print with reactive dyes on textiles.

The appearances of some works demonstrate a coherency in terms of composition and similarity in the underlying design sheets. Susan Fell McLean’s A Shroud of Ancient Echoes 1 & II celebrates an echo, an improvisation, a new melody based on old know-how that is intrinsic to Itajami Shibori. The shroud - of natural wool fibre - plays a role in the perpetual renewing cycle of life and death, as if time is a continuum. Julie Ryder’s Visionary explores the way we view objects and the way memory stores them for later recollection. In her second piece, Eclipse, Julie parallels the scientific processes used in creating her unique fruit fermentation technique to the formations and phases of the solar eclipse. Jurate Urbiene’s Quite Alone Oasis… focuses on her feelings for and about Australia with respect to its exotic character of nature, light, harmony, and self-invited fires.

In another grouping there are three works that are underpinned by pleating and folding styles. Regina Benson’s piece lo Rising II explores how natural forms express their, singularity while repeating familiar patterns. Ken Kagajo’s Discharge-thundercloud expresses his emotions as well as traces his movement of spreading paste with the squeegee, fully reflecting improvisation. Jurate Petruskeviciene’s Autumn Visions I & II employs natural dyes and mokume shibori to create an impression of vibrance and the shifts in colour that reflect the continuum of time and seasons.

Subject matter also underpins a unifying narration. As a conceptual environmentalist, Helen Lancaster’s Cane Toad Narrative is a narrative art piece that depicts the life cycle of the poisonous, introduced species, the cane toad, and its devastating effects on native species and ecological communities in this country. My own dye sublimation work, Sequestration of CO2, reminds us that plants are the natural sinks that capture carbon as well as capturing us visually.

I have often referred to contemporary fine art fabrics as “evidence” that a new continent in art is being explored. This exhibition - Art Cloth: Engaging New Visions – clearly demonstrates that there are a number of different and emerging landscapes that are being detailed within this continent of art. Exploring uncharted terrain, these artists have developed a rich visual vocabulary that challenges and transforms our perceptions of art and furthermore, recalibrates the use of cloth as a fine art medium. I wish to put it to you - watch this space - as there is now growing evidence that a coalescing is taking place, which in the not-too-distant future, will infuse into our artistic sub-consciousness, new and consistent theories (with subsequent embedded styles sheets) that will drive tomorrows fine art movements in fabric.

This exhibition was conceived by Marie-Therese Wisniowski in 2008. It was exhibited at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery (NSW) 29th August - 11th October 2009, Orange Regional Gallery (NSW) 9th of April - 30th May 2010, and Redcliffe City Art Gallery (Queensland) 11th - 28th August 2010 . It will be next exhibited at the Wangaratta Gallery (Victoria) between 11th December 2010 and 23rd January 2011. Below is a snapshot of the exhibition at Redcliffe.





















Acknowledgment
Photographs courtesy of Karen Tyler, Redcliffe City Art Gallery. Photography by Al Sim.

The Chorus of Cicadas
(Concept Artwork in Progress)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The chorus produced by cicadas (120 decibels) can be painful to the human ear. It acts as a defence against predatory birds since it makes it more difficult for a predator to locate an individual animal. The chorus often begins with the sound of one animal, which then reaches a crescendo - the crescendo slowly descending into a ripple, which peters into silence.

I have often witnessed analogous choruses where there are large crowds. When a spectacular event occurs in sport, there is always the first to cry in adulation, followed by the rising wave of exultation, descending to an embarrassed fan that wished he had cheered much earlier. Similar at classical concerts, there is the first to clap, a wave that stood up in appreciation and applauded, and the man who stood and finger whistled - when everybody else sat down!

In life I cannot help searching for that “cicadian” chorus. When I am hosting a party, there is the first to arrive, a multitude trying to enter your home at the same time, trailing with those who are fashionably late, to finally a person who comes in unfashionably late and drunk. When they exit, you can just play this scene forward again – the first to leave, the multitude who want to leave at the same time, and that unfashionable drunk who now you have to tuck into your guest room!

In all matters of social activity, where large numbers are involved, a normal distribution seems to appear. Hence, there is the first to rise to the last to fall, the first to sprawl to the last to crawl, the first to cry to the last to bawl etc. The next time you start your lawn mower, just listen to that developing chorus.

It is clear that the “cicadian” chorus is designed to obscure individuals in the multitude. Sure you can be the first to clap at a concert in the middle of a musical piece that may have several parts to it - but if no one joins in, everybody knows it is you who has stuffed it up. On the other hand, if everybody joins in, clearly you know your stuff! The first clappers are the real risk takers, the rest just suffer from the classical concert syndrome of - “dreaded fear of clapping in the wrong place” psychosis.

Sometimes it is best not to be a part of the “cicadian” chorus; that is, to stand back from it and not to join in - not to be the first, middle or the last animal to sing. Oh, if only Tiger Woods would have refrained from being that identifiable singer in a “cicadian” chorus!