Contemporary textile art is getting its day.
Starting Friday, a new show at Studio &, “Accumulation: An Examination of Process Through Textiles,” will feature the work of five artists – Minna Jain and her mother, Anita Jain; Ilze Aviks, Arista Slater-Sandoval and Leesa Zarinelli Gawlik – who are using the medium to help dispel the image of textile art as mere fiber craft or decorative art.
The show comes on the heels of a pop-up show the studio featured last year.
“We had such a good response from the community of textile artists and people who wouldn’t consider themselves textile artists – who knit or weave or do all kinds of other things with fiber, and also just from the contemporary art community in general,” said artist and one of Studio &’s owners Minna Jain. “People were so excited to see this medium that has only recently been starting to be more recognized by the mainstream as a contemporary art medium.
“People have been working fabulous contemporary art with textile and textile techniques,” said Jain, who will have nine pieces in the show. “But there’s been always this marginalization of it and often this thought that, ‘Oh, it’s got this rich ethnographic history, and it’s got all this women’s work historical focus in the United States, and that kind of thing, so it’s often fallen into these categories of craft or decorative arts.’ So even though people – like Ilze Aviks, who’s in the show – have been doing contemporary work with textile and textile technique for a long time, and even through educational programs, it’s still only kind of coming to people’s minds now as just one more medium you can create contemporary art with.”
Aviks, of Durango, also tackles the issue of mediums in her part of the show.
“My current work explores the politics of mark-making in contemporary art: What is valid medium? What is valid subject matter/” she says in her artist’s statement. “So-called ‘craft’ represents an alternative history and practice. The physical nature of the stitched mark reminds the viewer of a kind of activity and maker celebrated in world cultures, yet marginalized in traditional art history.”
Her “PAY ATTENTION” installment in the show also takes a political path. Painting and stitching on cotton and linen, Aviks points out what she sees as society’s complacency concerning drones as “both a potential invasion of privacy and, in war, a method of killing.”
Artist Arista Slater-Sandoval, who also manages Open Shutter Gallery, addresses building relations and nuturing these connections with others in one of her pieces in the show. In “For Dad, In Spite of Our Fears,” she used a repaired quilt that contains 167 handmade cyanotype squares.
‘We fear the loss of memory, the failure/wane/deterioration of bodily functions and the subsequent wealth of space that comes in the absence,” she says in her artist statement. “My story is but one version of a life, a visual approximation of varied observations.”
For artist Leesa Zarinelli Gawlik, it wasn’t until she was living in Japan that she “solidified her artistic voice in the medium of textiles.”
“My work is an accumulation of many facets, containing a history and patina perhaps evident only to me,” she said in her statement. “Embedded in the cloth is an accumulation of knowledge acquired through the years of experimentation.”
Minna Jain will have nine pieces in the show, in collaboration with her mother, Anita Jain. Minna created the creatures, made of cotton, driftwood and wool, that stalk in front of her mother’s felt-on-silk panels.
“I’ve been calling them ‘Four-Leggeds’ or ‘Walkers,’ Minna said. “My mom and I are doing a collaborative installation called ‘Walking Between,’ and we both wanted to tap into our Sami roots ... which is the native Scandinavians that span Norway, Finland, Russia.
“And in that culture, the Northern Lights is called “Revontulet,” which is “fox fire,” and they’re really this magical doorway between worlds in a way, and so we wanted to create that feeling of these elemental forces that walk between worlds,” she said.
Minna said Anita used a process called nuno felting for her panels, using raw wool (rovings) that she felted to silk.
“The rovings she used for this are all naturally dyed,” Minna Jain said. “The cool thing, too, is that some of the roving that she used is from a local – Pam Dyer. She bought it four or five years ago and was just waiting for the right time, so it’s kind of cool it’s coming back.”
And when it comes right down to it, art is art, no matter the process or material.
“Whether you’re making a mark with a stitch or you’re making a mark with a pencil, you’re making a mark,” Minna Jain said. “And textile’s cool because it’s dimensional, so you can sculpt with it, and accumulate with it and create all these really interesting things.”
“Accumulation” will officially kick off Friday night with an opening reception, and the exhibit will be on display through June 19.