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Artistic Ties

Art Preview

Dec. 15, 2008
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The knot, one of the oldest techniques for joining materials, ties together a variety of artwork in the Racine ArtMuseum's upcoming exhibition, "All Tied Up: Knitted and Knotted Work in RAM's Collection." The exhibit, which runs from Dec. 21 to March 8, 2009, will present an eclectic array of two- and three-dimensional art that uses the basic knot for its construction.

"Knots were used to tether animals, create nets, catch fish and game, or lift heavy weights," says RAM Executive Director Bruce Pepich. "But in this exhibit, this ancient technique creates works of modern art."

The show's contemporary fiber artwork ranges in size from 5 inches to 5 feet and was fashioned by leading international artists. An icon in this field, the late Diane Itter, uses only miniature square knots of dyed linen to create fine gradations of color in her work, a tapestry resembling a subtly shaded painting. Wisconsin artist Jan Buckman ties linen into miniature three-dimensional forms, often baskets with intricate surface patterns in geometric designs. Another piece, Warning Words, presents readable text that is entwined into a 4-foot-high rectangular sculpture made from fresh willow branches left to dry. Throughout the exhibit, the simple utilitarian task of knotting transforms into an art medium.

"All Tied Up" complements other shows at the RAM as well. Arline Fisch crocheted metal to fashion the brilliant colored jellyfish installed in the museum's original "storefront" windows, while the recently acquired Lloyd Cotsen basket collection reiterates the beauty of the knot when applied to these exquisite containers. The knot, whether it is plain, square or embroidered French, links these exhibits and demonstrates how one technique can offer an infinite variety of interpretations.

Due to the upcoming holidays, there will be no official opening reception. On Friday, Jan. 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., RAM hosts its "Free First Fridays," in which there is no admission charge.

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