|The Milwaukee Art Museum's Burke Brise Soleil winged sunscreen, designed by Santiago Calatrava.|
|When we left the "wings" had closed and wedding parties were taking turns getting photos.|
But our first stop was to see Small Expressions. I was struck by how each artist pushed her materials beyond their usual scope and modes of expression. As I saw in ATA's unjuried small tapestry show, the small format seems to encourage risk-taking and inventiveness.
Tapestry weaver Rebecca Smith used wire and beads as well as yarn to create a woven relief that pulls you in close to explore changes in surface detail.
|Rebecca Smith, Tapestry Relief, tapestry and bead weaving, 8 x 11 x 1"|
Kelsey Leib transformed wool and wood into this trompe l'oeil bouquet.
|Kelsey Leib, Ghost, wet felting, 10 x 6 x 3"|
|Barbara Chappell, Entwined, handwoven, shibori pleated, sculpted, 7 x 6 x 2"|
|Genevieve Moisan, Dark, brocaded Jacquard weaving, mercerized cotton, black mohair, orlec, muslin, |
wooden stretcher, 12 x 15 x 1"
|Genevieve Moisan, Dark, detail|
|Mirva Kuvaja, Archeology, freeform crochet, copper wire, found porcelain pieces, 8 x 8 x 1"|
I see that in almost every case here I have focused on the artist's inventive use of materials, her innovative technique. Fiber is a medium obsessed with materials, their textures and colors and malleability, so it is natural for us to be drawn first to these. And yet I am always preaching to my students not to focus on technique alone, but to be sure they have something to say, that their image and concept are worth the viewer's time and attention. Surprising use of materials may grab our attention at the outset, but visual delight and engaging ideas and stories will keep us looking. In this I think these artists have succeeded as well. What do you think?