UWM's Union Art Gallery Throws A Contemporary Look At Fiber

Sep. 30, 2012
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Integrating artists working in fiber art and an age old craft tradition comprise a current exhibition titled “Throw: Great Lengths of Innovation in Modern Quilting.” The University of Wisconsin Union Art Gallery presents seven artists who use contemporary visions of quilting techniques throughout their unique artwork. 

One of the most interesting artists Julie Floresch works by fabricating quilted jewelry, all available for purchase at the exhibition. Her earrings Pyramid Studs enhance the ear lobes by resembling a soft version of these Egyptian treasures along with her necklace Bird Graphic that could surround a long swan like neck.  While innovative quilting examples on their own, the pieces were meant to be worn. 

Kit Lang offers a contemporary version of a quilt constructed in black squares punctuated by thin, lime green strips. Playing off a simplified version of block quilting, perhaps Log Cabin, Lang’s unusually shaped satin strips contrast the soft velvet squares. While inherently uncomplicated in the piecing process, the finished effect remains elegant and sophisticated. 

With multiple artworks on display in the Union exhibition, Sherri Lynn Wood recycles material, frequently donated clothing, from past lives that illustrate complexity and movement, including a large "throw" titled Mod Mood. The artists believes in the exhibition's artist statement that, “She collaborates with the beloved [those who wear and donate the garments], who left the gift of clothing behind.”

Cindy Friedman constructs a four piece quilt visualized as a wall hanging to express an elusive narrative about one, appealingly older couple. The couple’s purple silhouette placed on an apricot to orange hued spectrum in lush silk creates a vibrating contrast to emphasize the couple’s emotion. 

Most innovative of all in the Union show, Greely Myatt represents the lone masculine voice. However, his “quilt” pieced together with screws unites aluminum and reclaimed steel traffic signs titled Ocean Waves, an actual name for a quilt pattern, for his stunning wall sculpture. Another Myatt relief print references an evocative and uneasy image titled Reoccurring Storm. 

Another quilter from Austin, Texas, Maura Ambrose presents shadow boxes filled with black walnut hulls and red or yellow onion skins to demonstrate how she dyes fabrics,  the various colors derived from these organic elements represented in samples mounted in the box. The hand dyed materials merge with vintage finds in Ambrose’s more traditional quilts which rely on these processes. 

While “Throw” features a few spectacular examples in contemporary quilting, the world of fiber, especially in this medium, has expanded tremendously to include a wider variety of patterns and technique, often resembling painting or printmaking itself. Techniques and images in which artists push the envelope to become demanding, exciting and exceptionally innovative artworks. Viewers who remember the quilts of Gee's Bend or the detailed handwork examined in The Winterthur Museum quilts on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum several years ago, will long for more creative substance. The Union exhibition presents only a small sampling of this highly specialized art genre, and the viewer would wish to see so much more.    

UWM’s Union Art Gallery presents “Throw: Great Lengths of Innovation in Modern Quilting” through October 12. Another show in the Union Atrium exhibits “25 Years of LGBT Film Festival Posters from October 15-October 21, while the undergraduate exhibition “Crossing Over” opens on October 19. For further information, please visit unionartgallery.uwm.edu or gallery@uwm.edu




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