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Now to the fun part. . . last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Polly Barton's new show of fiber work, Dare, Revel, Dive, at Chiaroscuro gallery in Santa Fe. Today I returned to the gallery for a second look. I stopped by in the middle of a series of errands I was doing around town, and the visit made for a quiet oasis in a busy day.
The title Dare, Revel, Dive refers to the three distinct bodies of work that make up the show. Dare describes four large ikat-dyed handwoven hangings. I have long admired Polly's ikat work and her mastery of the technique is evident. In these banners she pushes it by incorporating unusual materials (copper wire) and by explicitly referencing political themes in the red-white-and-blue color palettes of two of the banners. These are pieces whose strong graphic impact hits you across the room and whose exquisite details draw you closer. In Polly's hands, the bound-resist threads of ikat become a gestural, expressive move that tests and expands the woven grid.
|Polly Barton, Live Wire, 2020. 64.5" x 31.5". |
Silk warp ikat, pigment, copper wire weft
|Polly Barton, Thicket, 2018. 64.5" x 31.5". |
Silk double ikat with additional dye
|Polly Barton, Kaiwase Blue, 2021, |
handwoven linen paper and mixed media, 18.25" x 16.25"
The Revel pieces are three large grids of nine sheets of paper that is saturated with pastel pigments. These pieces are joyous immersions in pure color. A few hint at the landscape, perhaps, or at atmospheric effects in New Mexico skies, but I think that searching for a reference to the visible world is ultimately beside the point. The point is to bask--revel--in gorgeous color.
|Polly Barton, Revel III, 2021, pastel on paper|
54" x 34"
|Polly Barton, detail Revel III, 2021, pastel on paper|
54" x 34"
One leaves a show like this sighing with satisfaction that such refinement of dyeing and weaving technique, such expressive use of color and dedicated exploration of new possibilities over decades of studio practice, show what fiber art can be.