July Textile Art Picks!
June 8th–July 9th 2017
In a merge between painting, sculpture, textiles, photography, and historical ephemera, Travis Boyer presents an alternate, or reimagined presence of Tejano pop star, Selena Quintanilla, who died in March 1995. Even though Boyer is best known for tactile paintings on velvet, in recent years he has found inspiration and a creative outlet in the legacy of the late singer. Quintanilla, an artist and entrepreneur who influenced the lives of many Mexicans and Texans, died when Boyer (Texas-born) was 16. This exhibition brings together the artist’s personal collection of Selena memorabilia and sculptures created to honor her memory, and to offer an alternate outcome to the singer’s fashion line Selena Etc. Inc.. When stepping into SIGNAL one encounters four wool-horse blankets that are part of an ongoing collaboration between Boyer and the Biidaüü Weaving Collective from the Mexican town of Toetitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. The blankets feature embroidered symmetrical silhouettes of the singer’s legs and shoes from outfits at distinctive moments of her career. The “luxurious” blankets are displayed on purple, powder-coated racks, some mounted to the wall and others mounted on plinths whose surfaces are covered with tufted, dyed silk swaths, reminiscent of a piñata. When viewed, it appears that Selena has sat on them and left her imprint. Boyer wanted to create an army of Selenas that in times of need can come to the rescue.
Boyer’s “Ahora y Nunca” is more than a homage to the late singer and example of fandom. As expressed by Scott Indrisek for Artsy.com, it can be interpreted as a reminder of times when Mexico and the United States enjoyed a stage of political and cultural exchange and interplay, as the NAFTA agreement was created. In addition, honoring Selena also means celebrating freedom of expression and to follow what excites you. However, Boyer is not driven by nostalgia, but rather he wants to share evidence of a different type of American reality, one that is not traditionally linked to people of Mexican ancestry. Selena Etc. Inc., is a cross-section, an example of collective and inclusive America, of cross-cultural unity. “Ahora y Nunca” is a utopian celebration of Selena Quintanilla’s life encapsulated in textile sculptures and memorabilia, offering textiles as the unifying thread.
Morgan Lehman Gallery
June 22–July 28, 2017
Morgan Lehman’s summer exhibition “Brushless” aims to explore the endless possibilities of different painterly processes. This group exhibition includes artists who work with tools and techniques other than brushes to apply paint to the surface. Icelandic artist Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson is included as the textiles representative. By staining the fibers from both the warp and the weft and then weaving them together on a 10-foot loom, Jónsson creates colorful, shimmering, vibrant silk wall hangings that remind the viewer of tapestries or paintings. Considering the scale of the hangings, as well as their abstract qualities, they bear resemblance to works by Abstract Expressionists artists, however Jónsson’s silk walls provide a calm space for reflection. Jónsson uses her native Iceland landscape as inspiration, as well as brain scans, photographs, and an array of objects. If you want to learn more about Jónsson’s process and inspiration, visit our artist highlight post here.
Creative Time’s Headquarters
“Pledges of Allegiance” is a project launched by nonprofit New York based art organization Creative Time, composed of sixteen flags each commissioned to different artists. The idea of the project is to create a space of resistance but instead of opposing an established symbol, it aims to support one. Each flag represents the artist’s passions and causes that they each believe are worth fighting for. Acting as a response to the current political scenario, “Pledges of Allegiance” was created to inspire a sense of community among individuals, and cultural institutions.
Each flag will be displayed for a month on the rooftop of Creative Time’s Headquarters. Marilyn Minster’s RESISTANCE FLAG was the selected one to launch the project on June 14, Flag Day (ironically President Donald Trump’s birthday as well). Check Minster’s flag at its best viewing angle in the corner of E 4th Street and Bowery till July 3, and be on the look for the upcoming ones.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 4–September 4, 2017
In a transcendent challenge of art and fashion, “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers viewers an exhibition where design, space, body, form and figure are constantly questioned and reinvented over and over. The Costume Institute’s spring 2017 exhibition celebrates the career and creativity of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of the brand Comme des Garçons (like some boys), marking Kawakubo as the second living designer to be honored by the Costume Institute.
Throughout her career, Kawakubo has crossed the borders of conventional garments, revolutionized fashion, while introducing concepts, exploring the in-between, and reinventing her designs in every collection. Described by curator Andrew Bolton as an essay of Rei’s career rather than a retrospective, the exhibition design itself gives viewers the freedom to approach her work as they please. The exhibition includes over 140 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to the most recent collections, with some headpieces and wigs created by Julien D’Ys. Instead of having a chronological approach, as Kawakubo has a strict resistance of revisiting the past, the garments are divided and organized into 9 sections of aesthetic expressions that encompass Kawakubo’s dual and juxtaposing approach to design: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, Clothes/Not Clothes.
In overall terms, the exhibition offers a one of a kind experience of Kawakubo’s work and her constant reinvention. Simultaneously, through her garments the viewer can also identify the infinite possibilities that textiles can offer, and how a specific fabric or print, can evoke a variety of connections and feelings. It also displays the thoughtfulness and the process behind each piece, it is very clear that her work is not fast-fashion, but a redefinition of beauty, body, form and even in the latest collection it raises questions about wearability. In addition, the exhibition design also proposes an alternate way of experiencing museum spaces. A way to describe Kawakubo’s work could be conceptual fashion, innovative, challenging, and provocative. An exhibition to not miss!
If you are interested in hearing the exhibition’s curator, Andrew Bolton, in conversation with Vanessa Freidman, fashion director at The New York Times, and Adrian Joffe, Kawakubo’s husband, check out this link.
The Gallery at Calabar
July 8–September 9, 2017
The Gallery at Calabar, specialized in showcasing contemporary African Artists and African Diaspora artists, presents their summer exhibition “Conversations in Patterns, Textiles, Figures and Portraits: JAMILLA OKUBO AND IFY CHIEJINA.” The exhibition explores the works of Kenyan-American artist Jamilla Okubo and Nigerian-American artist Ify Cheijna.
Okubo, who through patterns and textiles explores African American history, Kenyan textiles, and fashion. A DC native, and once a New York City resident, Okubo graduated from Parsons the New School for Design in Integrated Fashion Design, with a concentration in Fine Arts. Her work aims to use her interdisciplinary concentration as the medium to address topics, while simultaneously redefining the traditional narrative of the African Diaspora. Heavily inspired by storytelling through textiles, Okubo creates vibrant and colorful pieces, filled with powerful messages and history. If you would like to read more about Okubo’s work, check out this interview from okayafrica.com and her website.
Ify Chiejina (full name: Ifeatuanya Chiejina) born and raised in New York City, is a lgbo female visual artist whose work can be understood as a reflection of Nigerian customs and traditions. Chiejina creates portraits in acrylic on canvas and/or paper, and also in wet and dry based mediums such as charcoal to then distort the human figure with the intention of exploring human emotions. As a visual artists, she is interested in identifying the significance of self with feelings and thoughts. Her works in heavily influenced by German Abstract Expressionism, Expressionists, and Graphic artists. To read more about Chiejina’s work and compelling artist statement, check her website.
June 29–August 18, 2017
In the group exhibition “The Unhomely” at Denny Gallery, the textile works of Diedrick Brackens are included in an ongoing conversation that aims to explore the experience of being an artist in a globalized world and art world, inspired by Homi Bhabha’s post-colonialist idea of the “unhomely.” Described as the “shock of recognition of the world-in-the-home, and the-home-in-the-world” the unhomely concept has been used to describe the feeling that many people share in the U.S. where they are unable to identify with the politics that affect their private and professional lives.
Diedrick Brackens is a Los Angeles-based artist who creates weavings that incorporate techniques drawn from European tapestries, West African weavings, and Southern quilts. However, more than mixing techniques, Brackens is mixing histories and traditions. Brackens uses textiles to talk about his identities, “I pull on textile traditions from the cultures that are a part of my makeup: European tapestry, strip-woven kente cloth of Ghana, and the quilts of the American south. Through weaving and sewing, I am able to make a fabric that fully integrates all parts of my experience.” Brackens in an interview for The Daily Californian.
Lyles & King
June 8–July 28, 2017
TT52 is widely known as the tomb of Ancient Egyptian official Nakht and his wife Tawy located on the western side of the Nile river, but for gallery Lyle & King it is a way of deciphering the paintings by American artist Trudy Benson and the textiles by the French artist Yann Gerstberger. Currently living and working in Mexico City, Gerstberger creates colorful and rugged tapestries, by inserting marked sourced fabrics among hand-dyed mop-head strans glued to a vinyl surface. His methodology proposes craftsmanship itself as an image making technique. For this body of work, Gerstberger references the comic “Fabulas Panicas” (panicking fables) by Chilean-French artist Alejandro Jodorowsky, the European fantasies of the tropical, but he also draws from and continues the modernist tradition of his native France. All of this resulting, in large-scale surrealist landscapes, filled with colors and textures, worth of staring for awhile!