JANE SAUER GALLERY presents Judith Content's new show, "Desert Rain, Works on Silk."
For over 30 years Judith Content has been exploring and refining the traditional Japanese arashi-shibori dye technique creating a contemporary approach to an ancient technique. Patterns reminiscent of wind-driven rain emerged from this process. Perhaps this is why the dye process was named arashi, which translates as the word “storm” in Japanese. Content has devised her own ways of wrapping and applying the dye to silk. Her palette is not only traditional indigo but a broad spectrum of colors using beautiful Japanese “miyakozome” dyes. Content’s process creates subtle gradations of color that merge and morph into each other. The viewer cannot always tell when and how one color becomes another. At times Content also removes layers of color through a gentle bleaching process. Although much is controlled, Content states “the element of surprise when the silk is unwrapped and the patterns are revealed never fails to excite me.”
Judith Content constructs large wall panels with a palette of various silk fabrics created using a traditional Japanese dye technique called arashi--shibori. As practiced in Japan, fabric was tightly wrapped and compressed on long polished wooden poles. The threads used to secure the fabric to the pole as well as the manipulated pleats resist the penetration of dye. Patterns reminiscent of wind- driven rain emerged from this process. Perhaps this is why the dye process was named arashi which translates as the word “storm” in Japanese.
During the summer of 2010 when Content visited the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico she was drawn to the mission of their Watershed Educational Project which she describes as “an exciting exploration of river ecology, riparian/wildlife habitat, cultural traditions of New Mexico and the restoration efforts of this vital wetlands, at home in a desert landscape. Exploring the deep water marsh on boardwalks and trails I was mesmerized by the sensation of reeds and grasses towering overhead, their graceful silhouettes reflected in the water at my feet. The experience gained an element of mystery when the sky grew dark and rain poured down. This morphed to exhilaration when the sun came out, mirroring the sky on water droplets balancing on the blades of marsh grasses.” Content knew this strange and new environment would be the subject of her solo show this fall.