Karen Reimer’s solo exhibition at Gallery 400 comprises a new entry in her on-going project Endless Set, accompanied by a selection of past artworks that illuminate the role spatial concerns have played in work that has often been read primarily through the lens of craft. Curated by Gallery 400 Director Lorelei Stewart, Endless Set #1399 is presented in conjunction with an architecture-based exhibition at the Gahlberg Gallery, College of DuPage, and runs from August 31 to October 20, 2012.
Steeped in craft traditions, yet working across disciplines, Karen Reimer produces work that expansively addresses the larger relationship of craft to modernist and postmodernist cultural aims. For more than fifteen years she has created architecture-related installations that reconsider modernist ideals and minimalist embodiment through the quirks and heterogeneity of the handmade and everyday. The two exhibitions extend those interests by making markedly material two explicitly abstract, mathematical concepts of space.
Gallery 400's new work is a single iteration from Reimer's series Endless Set (begun 2007), in which appliquéd pillowcases marry hand-sewn fabric's domesticity to the infiniteness of the prime number sequence. Each pillowcase is made from a number of fabric scraps equal to a prime number. Appliquéd on top of this patchwork are the corresponding white fabric numerals. The depicted numeral measures as many inches tall as the number itself. Thus, the white fabric number 7 is seven inches high, and sewn onto a backing made of seven pieces of fabric. As the dimensions of the numbers exceed the dimensions of the pillowcase Reimer folds and layers the number form back and forth across the surface, gradually obscuring the patchwork. The larger the prime number, the more minimal in color and yet more sculptural the works become. For Gallery 400’s installation, Reimer is crafting a pillowcase of the prime number, 1399, closest to the linear perimeter of Gallery 400's largest gallery, 1400 inches (116 2/3 feet). Four white, fabric numerals (scaled to 1,399 inches) are folded and sewn down to the 26 by 20 inch linear dimensions of a standard pillowcase to become a stunning sculptural form compressing the dimensions of the exhibition space into a thick, dense fabric object—a physical doppelganger of the space. Reimer is currently devising a way to secondarily represent on the gallery’s floors, walls, and ceilings, the full-scale (116 2/3 foot high) numerals of the number that is condensed into the sculptural object.
The site-specific installation will be accompanied by a selection of historical works that consider domestic, discursive, and spatial relations.
Karen Reimer (born 1958) has had solo exhibitions at moniquemeloche gallery, Chicago; the Rochester Art Center, MN; the Riverside Arts Center, IL; Schopf Gallery, Chicago; and the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. Her work has been included in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Contemporary Craft Museum, Portland, Oregon; and Wallspace Gallery, New York, among others. Reimer is the recipient of an Artadia Individual Artist grant and a Richard A. Driehaus Individual Artist award. Her work has been included in the publications By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), The Object of Labor: Art, Cloth, and Cultural Production (MIT Press, 2007), and Contemporary Textiles (Black Dog Press). She is currently an instructor in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Reimer completed a BA at Bethel College, North Newton, KS, and an MFA at the University of Chicago.