Turner Carroll Gallery is excited to announce an upcoming group exhibition titled "Woven." It will be open to the public beginning March 17 and will continue through April 7. This show will exhibit tapestries by blue-chip contemporary artists Deborah Oropallo, Chuck Close, Squeak Carnwath, Alex Katz, and Hung Liu. This diverse group of artists is united by their interest in manifesting their striking contemporary art in the age-old medium of tapestry weaving.
From Incan apparel to Middle Eastern carpets, Dark Ages wall hangings in European fortresses to brocade coronation gowns in 19th century France, the use of weaving over time has been incredibly varied. In 1801, the invention of the Jacquard room represented a pivotal moment for the process; developed by Joseph Marie Jacquard, this loom greatly simplifed the process of producing complex textiles. The Jacquard loom's weave is dictated by a punched card, which controls the movement of each individual thread. A hook, suspended over thousands of individual threads, raises or lowers each thread in correspondence with the presence or absence of a hole in the punched card. This binary system creates the complex weave pattern of a Jacquard tapestry. Indeed, this type of punch card programming was the foundation for all other binary computing systems and, ultimately, the modern computer.
The ancient art of weaving collides with the modern, mechanized world in the Jacquard loom. In this exhibition, contemporary art is displayed in a simultaneously ancient and current medium. This collision represents a tension in our everyday lives; in the digital world, so much of what we see is pixelated, though we see only the compound whole.
Here, thousands of individual threads precisely intertwine to render a united image. These tapestries force the viewer to confront that reality, illuminating the delicate balance between pixel and image, fragmentation and whole, thread and tapestry. Likewise, by weaving together contemporary images and an age-old technique, the viewer is reminded that the modern image, and our digital world, would be impossible without the technology of the Jacquard loom.
A work like Sunflower by Chuck Close, which will be featured in this show, demonstrates the contemporary possibilities for weaving. Close is known for his strikingly detailed, “photorealist” portraits; when translated to the medium of tapestry, the detail of these works is all the more incredible. From afar, they appear to be “whole,” united photographs; up close, they reveal themselves to be fragmented into thousands of individual threads. Close’s use of a classical medium to render photorealist, contemporary images highlights the incredible technology of the Jacquard loom.
Unlike Close, the work of Alex Katz deals in abstraction; his portraits are composed of flat plains of color and shading. The specificity of the Jacquard loom, in which each colored tapestry thread must be chosen, reveals the labor that lies behind these seemingly simplisitic images. Ada with Sunglasses, for example, required six months of collaboration between Katz and the tapestry manufacterers.
Deborah Oropollo, in contrast with Katz, creates deeply layered, multi-dimensional portraits. In her series Lawless, Oropollo imposes 18th century portraits of powerful men over contemporary images of women in sexualized clothes. This collision between modern and classical is ideal for the tapestry medium, combining the traditionally feminine art of weaving with the masculinity of the modern machine.