Sunday, December 7, 2014

World of Threads: Textile References

The Last Supper, detail,  Carmelo Arnoldin
The recent World of Threads Festival showcased several interesting works that, though they were not made of fibre, referenced a fibre technique. The Last Supper, by Carmelo Arnoldin, is one such piece.

The Last Supper, Carmelo Arnoldin
Shown in The Studio of the Oakville Galleries, this work measures more than 20 feet wide. It is made entirely from discarded aluminum cans, which are cut into quarter-inch wide strips and then woven to "depict a spread of fast food fare readily associated with North American lifestyles."

The work "draws on traditions such as religious painting, Roman mosaics and Dutch vanitas -- and their enduring themes of devotion, desire and death -- to reflect on the state of vice and virtue in contemporary life."

Arnoldin has exhibited his work worldwide, and has been a professor in the Art and Art History program at Sheridan College in Oakville and the University of Toronto at Mississauga since 1987.

Grey and White Grid, Natasha Gouveia

Another work with not a trace of fibre or thread is this painting by Ontario artist Natasha Gouveia. (Except, of course, that it is painted on a stretched canvas.) It was part of The Red and the Black exhibit in the Gallery of the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, curated by Gareth Bate. The photo does not do justice to the subtlety and complexity of the work, which seems to have been created by using drywall tape as a stencil. Again, though not made of cloth, it references cloth because of its texture.

Grey and White Grid, detailNatasha Gouveia
The Studio Art Quilt Associates group has recently expanded its definition* of an art quilt to include works like this. Earlier this year an entire show, Radical Elements, was organized by SAQA and was comprised exclusively of work made of wood, metal, painted canvas and/or other non-fibre materials that suggested the materials and techniques usually associated with cloth.

I think that this blurring of boundaries is a positive development, asking both makers and viewers to question the nature of fibre art and its place in the contemporary art scene. It is also consistent with the approach taken by university-level Fine Arts programs, many of which now have entire departments devoted to "Fibre and Materials Practice".

* "The art quilt is a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.

"The word 'references' allows for a broader understanding of the art quilt, thus creating a potential for growth in SAQA membership in terms of numbers and diversity of artists. The revised definition allows for more 3D work and work in media other than fiber/textile/fabric/cloth; it allows for techniques and materials not found in traditional quilting. The revised definition allows for framed, unframed, bound, and unbound work, thereby welcoming growth and development of individual style."

1 comment:

Dianne Robinson said...

This certainly takes us out of the "textile" art category and expands it.