Textiles Highlights of the 2017 Armory Show

The Armory Show is a renowned art fair, used to showcase emerging artists and display popular visuals of the 20th and 21st century.

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- Photo Courtesy of The Armory-

The first Armory Show, presented by the Association of American Painters and Sculptors in 1913, did, in fact, take place in an armory located on Lexington Avenue, between 25th and 26th Street. The original show was so politically charged and visually avant-garde that many were outraged – this contributed to its overwhelming success. The modern day Armory Show was founded in 1994, and operated out of a hotel, inviting collectors and dealers into this selective showing. It was officially named the Armory Show in 1999, as an homage to the original.

Located at Piers 92 and 94, the show is scenic and set right upon the water. One of the first things I noticed upon entering the space was its set up – pretty booths equipped with carefully curated, mini displays of the various galleries’ artistic preferences. Some could be easily overlooked, others invited a closer analysis. Essentially, it was exactly what you would think the gallery world would look like if it could somehow be condensed into a single space… which is just what the Armory Show is.

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- Photo Courtesy of Time Out -

Each gallery put the energy into piecing together the right look and representation of themselves. As a whole, the show was beautifully put together. There was a vibrant energy of excited audience members enjoying the overwhelming amount of visual stimulation, which made it easy to become slightly distracted and disoriented. My primary criticism of huge art fairs is that in their nature, they tend to strip the work of their context. Nonetheless, there is definitely opportunity to be inspired by something, considering the sheer amount of work. The fiber work at the show was particularly interesting, because it stood out among the mass amounts of paintings and sculptures. Below, I have added a small tidbit of background to the more exciting textile pieces present at the show!

Maria Nepomuceno

Maria Nepomuceno uses brightly colored ropes and traditional weaving methods to create natural forms. Bright colors, tubular shapes, and structureless forms are reminiscent of the body, life, and the earth. This piece has a strong presence that reveals itself the more you look at it.

Abdoulaye Konate

Konate lives and works in Mali, which is the foundation for his aesthetic use of textiles. Wanting to keep in touch with the traditions of Mali, he only uses materials made and found locally in these vibrant and textural wall pieces. Concerned with the state of humans and the effects of our actions, his work is often politically and socially charged. It certainly stands out as bold and in charge against the other pieces that lack that sense of authority.

Ernesto Neto

Neto is a Brazilian artist who uses light and stretchy fabrics to create sensuous forms, often filled with coffee beans and other aromatic spices to create an experience that indulges more than one sense. He describes his forms as sexually charged and energy driven. In person, this piece has a feminine quality, delicate and soft, but sturdy.

Aiko Hachisuka

Aiko Hachisuka uses found fabrics and silkscreening paint to create vibrant biomorphic sculptures. She begins by collecting excess clothing, stuffing them with foam, and stitching them back together. Her pieces have a homemade vibe considering her use of material and the soft, natural forms into which she molds them.

Brian Willis

This cross between painting and sculpture has a clean and meticulous presence. Threads carefully mounted on wooden panels make his pieces dimensional in contrast to his geometric shapes.  The Californian artist describes his work as “a bit obsessive” which is certainly evident in-person. If you are infatuated by a controlled sort of minimalism, then these sculptures are certainly up your alley.

Zohra Opoku

Opoku is a German-born, Ghanaian artist who utilizes her environment to create a representation of her self and her culture. Photographs, textiles, clothing, and embroidery carefully pieced together create large tapestries that translate into a personal narrative of identity. Exciting in person, these pieces have a large presence that many seemed very attracted to.

Brigida Baltar

Baltar is a Brazilian artist whose embroidered fabrics are soft and romantic. Stemming from a desire to slow down and prioritize simpler things, she gathers inspiration from little moments throughout the day and translates them into her sculptures. They hold a quiet presence, reminiscent of something you would find in your grandmother’s house, but with a contemporary vibe.

Lauren Luloff

Luloff uses delicate fabrics and paint to create a dynamic that is gentle and expressive. Her conceptual process begins by taking inspiration from home life and incorporating a personal significance into her work.

Kiki Smith

Smith often uses imagery of nature to convey a sense of spirituality, stillness, and humans’ relationship to nature. Her series of tapestries are carefully embroidered with a quilt-like quality.

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