Fabric cannot be disassociated from both its practicalities and its histories. It can be soft or course, rigid or supple, and its linkages to gender and status are unshakable. While the smallest fiber can evoke notions of femininity, touch itself is the first sense we gain in our mothers’ wombs. In “Suture,” Like the Spice presents seven artists whose work bears, and yet also exploits, the cultural norms associated with textiles and other craft materials.
Since the 1970’s the media of everyday objects have become more and more pervasive in fine art, but craft is still distinguished from sculpture and painting as art with a utilitarian purpose. For the artists in this show, both quotidian and concept can become query as they incorporate discourses of high versus low art in acts of subversion and aesthetic playfulness.
Perhaps the artist in “Sutured” to use the methodology of fiber arts most frankly, Richard Saja’s embroidered human-animal hybrids, clowns, and fantastical beasts defy the strict delineations in the strata of art historical context. His brilliantly rendered characters upend the decorum of the centuries’ old prints of toile fabric, a textile common in drapery and upholstery. The monochromatic swooning farmers and ornate foliage in the toile are the templates for his sardonically humorous re-narrations.
Joseph Heidecker also offers interruptions of sentimentality by effacing, embossing, and sewing into vintage statuettes acquired at estate auctions and various flee markets. His additions are less synthesis than synaesthetic as he threads beads and glues googly eyes and other items from your kindergarten’s craft drawer to his found objects.
Jude Broughan’s raw patchworks of original and re-photographed images sewn to fragments of leather and plastic are at the same time personal and disconcerting. The stitched juxtapositions represent past and present, but they are less narrative than the symbiosis of memory and experience that creates one’s sense of self and home.
Abstraction confronts formalism and a celebration of the decorative ensues in Robert Raphael’s sculptures of wood, ceramic, and satin ribbon. His stark wooden posts hint at minimalism and embracing architecture, while he adorns them with collapsed stacks of glazed ceramic geometric figures and the occasional dollop of thick paint.
With Vadis Turner, abstraction and tradition collide in wall-hung works comprised of satin affixed to square canvases. She assembles her delicate media in bit-by-bit renderings of smoke and mold that seem to test the idea of modern painting. Her materials are heavily laden with symbolism, but she is aware of its associations. Deep in these variegated folds of color is the history of the feminine, yet the works don’t betray their formal qualities as paintings.
Adam Parker Smith’s monumental collage comprised of thousands of hand-woven friendship bracelets fashioned to spell out “will u marry me” is a tapestry of the tragic. What could be a sublime gesture reveals itself as an assumed moment, implied by Smith to elicit our involvement. What we are left with as viewers is the dare to leave our sentimentality at the door to view the meaning of the work change as it hangs on the gallery walls for three weeks.
Zoe Sheehan Saldana creates uncanny duplications of store-bought objects, photographs them, and then returns them to the same rack or shelf of the original item. In the gallery she offers a glimpse of her travails in a fullscale photograph hung next to the original item. The clash of machine and man-made means of production foregrounds craft as a high-art concept and unsettles contemporary notions of value and utility.