Textiles: More Than Fabric for Clothes

Heads of Manatas and Indigo Trinidad in installation by Laura Anderson Barbata

Heads of Manatas and Indigo Trinidad in installation by Laura Anderson Barbata

I started my celebration of Textile Month by taking in Material Cultures, a lovely compact exhibition at BRIC House, which explores how 8 different artists employ textiles in their art.  Most of the featured works tend toward sculptural or 3-D, with only one artist using fabric to create clothing.  Hailing from Mexico, Peru, Canada and the US, many of these artists are re-interpreting traditional materials and/or techniques, allowing them to be seen in a new light, or referencing the collision of tradition and modern life.  Here are some of my favorites.

Laura Anderson Barbata created a group of ten imaginative, fanciful figures garbed in costumes mostly made of hand-woven indigo dyed cotton, thus exploring the possibilities of this widely used fabric, whose designs are often freighted with the political and social implications of the communities in which they are made.   

Luna Park by Adrian Esparza

Luna Park by Adrian Esparza

Adrian Esparza has deconstructed a serape, transforming this traditional garment into a large-scale, modernist “drawing” that is Op-Art in its feel, by pinning different colored threads to the wall, creating lines and shapes that intersect and overlap, resulting in new colors and geometric abstractions.  Despite it’s size, I found his work to have a very open, delicate feel. 

Papel tejido, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, hand woven acrylic on paper in Material Cultures at BRIC

Papel tejido, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, hand woven acrylic on paper in Material Cultures at BRIC

Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia  created several joyous brightly colored tapestries made from long strips of painted paper  which he’s woven into complex abstract patterns.   

Oulad Bou Sbea by Marela Zacarias in Material Cultures at BRIC

Oulad Bou Sbea by Marela Zacarias in Material Cultures at BRIC

Marela Zacarias large-scale monochromatic sculpture cascades down one of the gallery walls like a softly-draped piece of white satin, which belies the complexity of its structure.  The artist has fashioned the underlying form from wire screening which she attaches to wooden supports, to which she applies layers of plaster she then sands, polishes and paints.  You’ll also find two smaller works which she has painted with geometric patterns, giving the impression that they’re silk scarves that just happen to be on the wall.

detail of crocheted mandala by Xenobia Bailey

detail of crocheted mandala by Xenobia Bailey

Up the stairs in a small bright room you’ll find the joyful, vibrant hand-crocheted  work of Xenobia Bailey, which references various philosophies and traditions, but is rooted in the African-American popular culture of the American South.  The bright pink walls are decorated with her colorful, concentric mandalas, imbuing the space with energy and the visual rhythms of jazz. In the center of the room you’ll find the Funktional House, a tent of lively, varied patterns crocheted from brightly-colored yarns (unfortunately you can’t go in) that transmutes the energy of funk. 

There are more artists who’s work is on display;  you can find more pictures on my Instagram feed .

On September 28th, at 7:00pm, BRIC will host a panel discussion with several of the artists in the show. FREE with RSVP.

The exhibit continues on until October 23rd, at BRIC House 247 Fulton Street, Brooklyn.

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