Filed under: artists in review | Tags: art, caroline, hinterland, installation, kohler, lathan-stiefel, layer city, locks gallery, microfibers, pipe cleaners, stiefel
A decade ago, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel fashioned her first immersive installation from re-purposed craft and household materials, including fabric, yarn, fruit nets, plastic bags, bottle caps, and rice bags, which were sewn and pinned to elaborate pipe cleaner frames. These colorful upcycled nests are akin to three dimensional drawing, and imply connective systems in chaos.
Below are images from her Layer City (2009) installation at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. During its four month exhibition, Lathan-Stiefel continually added new components to the work, conjuring references to urban sprawl.
Her upcoming installation entitled Hinterland for the Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery in Philadelphia, will incorporate sound components in a collaboration between Lathan-Stiefel and her husband, composer Van Stiefel. Over the next several months, Stiefel will be collecting the natural and man-made sounds surrounding their home, and combining these into computer-generated compositions for gallery visitors to hear.
Lathan-Stiefel’s one-story 1950’s ranch home is located in West Chester, PA, 45 minutes west of Philadelphia, in a neighborhood that is adjacent to a densely-wooded forest. In preparation for Hinterland, she has been creating a series of small outdoor installations for a project entitled the Roam Project. Installations range from the wooded community surrounding her home, to buildings and cars in urban Philadelphia.
This prospective work, its collaborative sound elements and guerrilla upbringing in the landscape surrounding her home, updates our modern conception of a Hinterland. Once defined as “the land behind a city,” for Lathan-Stiefel, a Hinterland is “a permeable, fluid entity where the urban, suburban and natural realms connect and seep into each other, creating a kind of thick, overgrown sprawl. A hinterland can also be a psychological realm that one either wants to escape to or escape from.”
Thus far, my interactions with Lathan-Stiefel and her work are solely digital, yet her images still evoke a Hinterland. I regress, escaping into her colorful nests, and feel like an imaginitive youth who, given unlimited supplies, has built myself a fort in the midst of the city. Despite the implications of urban sprawl, there is a playfulness about Lathan-Stiefel’s work that begs experiencing first-hand.
I have asked Caroline to do a show in the Midwest, to which she stated, “I would love to show something in your area, but have no plans as of yet. I may apply to the Kohler Art Center soon though.” Talk about escapism: cheers to seeing a red-hot cast iron bathtub suspended from a crane, and exploring a Lathan-Stiefel installation all in one trip!
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: art therapy, crochet, knitting art, prison art, spinhandspun
Mutual friends brought #200244 to my attention last winter. At the time, I was writing a literature review on the effectiveness of art therapy in the prison system and yarnstorming Spinhandspun into screaming infanthood. #20024′s subversive dog sweaters intrigued me, and his big house crochet inspired many components of my thesis.
On the outside, #200244 created projects using the materials around him. A painter and mixed media artist, he learned to crochet in lock up through a program that teaches inmates to make blankets, hats, and mittens for charity. With enough practice, he took to crafting his own designs.
For #200244, creating is a privilege: “I am fully aware it’s all I have, so I appreciate it a lot more. I pretty much live to make the next piece better than the last.”
Recently, #200244 has made the switch from crocheting to knitting to save on yarn. He has also taken up veganism, and begun a pink stuffed animal series in addition to more sweaters.
In the future, he hopes to meet a farmer who will let him knit sweaters for his cows, and has a garment in mind for Yoko Ono. That said, he predicts Ono will be less receptive than the cows.
Below are a selection of images from his current collection. Each item is moderately priced, and available for purchase. Contact email@example.com for information.
Photography by J. Lindemann & J. Shimon.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: art, becky stern, body technology interfaces, knit, stern lab, sternlab, technology
Make Magazine blog writer Becky Stern of Sternlab.org has spent the past year knitting a humorous series of Body Technology Interfaces that spotlight our engrossment in modern technology. Unlike knitwear, which is designed to move with the body, Stern’s wares emphasize the lack of motion involved with technological interfacing, and are instead intended to provide comfort, warmth, and privacy in public settings. Her hope is to bring critical awareness to our absorption in personal electronic devices, and ways they mentally and physically dominate our everyday behaviors and public activities.
To encourage personal communication, Stern invites participants to design and sketch their own Body Technology Interface with her. These designs are then packaged as a kit containing parts and assembly instructions. She asks that participants photograph and document their thoughts and experiences using these creations to Becky@sternlab.org for the project website.
More images are available on Flickr™.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: elizabeth o'donnell, fiber art, kodiak alaska, kodiak national wildlife refuge, tide pool, tide pool project
Tide Pool Project: Call for Entries
Felt stones by Inge Norgaard Port Townsend, Washington USA
Elizabeth O’Donnell has announced a fabulous new opportunity for fiber artists interested in drawing awareness to the importance of our coastal waters and their role in maintaining the health of our planet. She writes:
I am seeking submissions from fiber artists around the world to create a collaborative tide pool made up of textile stones, kelp, anemone, barnacles, octopi, crabs, shells and other related flora and fauna.
Submissions may be no smaller than 2 inches and no larger than 6 inches in any direction. Artists may work in any textile discipline (i.e. knitting, felting, sewing, crochet) and are encouraged to create 3 dimensional works OR 2 dimensional surfaces with raised detailing and embellishment. Recycled materials are also acceptable, as garbage and debris pose a threat to coastal wildlife that ingest or otherwise become entangled in discarded trash and lost fishing gear.
All objects received will be documented online with credit given to artists and links to blogs or websites. Please include your name, city/state/country where you reside, email address and URL you would like us to link to. There is no limit to the number of objects that can be submitted. Submissions become the property of the International Textile Tide Pool Project. Deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2011.
My goal is to create a textile tide pool that will bring awareness to the importance of our coastal waters and the delicate and critical balance they play in the health of our planet. This project has the potential to travel to destinations that are further removed from the sea to inspire and kindle the imagination, and bring the sea to people who might not have ever experienced the marvel of exploring the thriving biodiversity found in tidal waters.
I am currently working on a website for this project and will exhibit this collaboration at the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge on Kodiak Island OR in an actual swimming pool if I can obtain permission from the proper local authorities. We have a new public pool under construction and an old one that will eventually be demolished. Once the installation has been installed and documented, I hope to find other cities around the world that are interested in hosting this exhibit and drawing attention the importance of the health and sustainability of our oceans worldwide.
Please mail all submissions to:
TIDE POOL PROJECT
c/o Elizabeth O’Donnell
P.O. Box 3075
Kodiak Island, Alaska
For more information, visit http://www.tidepoolproject.blogspot.com/
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: 14Karat Cabaret, amplified knitting, knit art, knitted art, laure drogoul, orchestral knitting, spinhandspun
Interactive artist Laure Drogoul conducts the art of knitting with an orchestra of amplified-needle instruments, and stitch-pattern scores.
The blonde 50-something New Yorker, has been knitting since childhood when her Polish grandmother, who didn’t speak English, taught her how. Because of the language barrier, Drogoul relied heavily on the sound of the needles to find her way through the process.
Roughly 10 years ago, Drogoul began attaching contact microphones to her knitting needles. After a few solo performances, she rallied a group of collaborators in her Baltimore shop front to perform the synchronized, knitted amplification of a sweater vest pattern she’d found in an old magazine.
Since then, the project has expanded and become even more interactive. In 2006, she packed a suitcase full of 10 skeins of yarn, and headed to a KnitKnit launch event at the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York. The suitcase was placed amidst a circle of ten chairs, with each skein pulled out and attached to a set of needles. Participants were invited to sit down, knit for a while in synchrony, and come and go as they pleased. Though Drougal mixed a few echos and delays into the sound, she worked to “keep the sound close to the source.”
Drogoul has also used the internet to promote her concept, by networking a large-scale orchestra to the web during her 2007 Harvestworks residency. Ultimately, her goal is to expose knitting as a repetitive activity that connects us via sound. She dreams that one day we will be able to fashion a language from the sounds of knits and purls.
Drogoul is also the founder of the performance series The 14Karat Cabaret.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: crochet reef, crocheted reef, daina taimina, fractals, great crochet reef, hyperbolic space, margaret wertheim, non-euclidian, spinhandspun, the quick and the dead
Hyperbolic space is a non-Euclidean geometic form described by Mathematicians as a shape with a constant negative curvature. Essentially, it is the opposite of a ball. They occur naturally in the curves of lettuce leaves, Chinese wood, and ear mushrooms.
For years, researchers believed creating a physical model of these spaces was impossible, until 1997 when Daina Taimina’s crochet hook proved them wrong.
Born in Latvia, Taimina had been an avid knitter and crocheter since childhood. She and her husband were on a camping trip when she first constructed a plane.
The concept is simple: the crocheter begins with a circle, and frequently increases stitches at a constant rate — for example, one increase for every four stitches — in order to create the ruffled edges which form as it enlarges.
Previously, Taimina had been using frail paper models to familiarize her Cornell University students with hyperbolic space. By constructing crocheted versions, students were able to pick up and handle their physical forms.
In 2006, Margaret Wertheim and The Institute for Figuring adopted Taimina’s technique, inviting crocheters to model our coral reefs in an effort to celebrate their beauty, their underlying mathematical structures, and to encourage conservation efforts.
Like a reef, which is made up of many various sub-reefs, the quality of yarn, style of stitch, and tightness of the crochet all affect the finished forms so that each becomes its own unique living organism.
Since 2006, the project has exploded. This past February, Wertheim presented their efforts at the 2009 TED Conference. The full video is available below.
I had the opportunity to see one of Taimina’s pieces at The Walker this spring for their conceptual show entitled The Quick and the Dead. Though I had already been warned by a guard in an earlier gallery for standing too close to a painting, it took every effort not to reach out and remove the tiny hyperbolic object from its shelf. I envied Taimina’s students — the medium itself proved familiar and inviting, with its formal elements begging to be turned over by hand and observed.
Perhaps the pattern I’ve listed above will come in handy. Sorry knitting… it’s gonna be me and the hook for a while…
For more on hyperbolic space, check out this interview with Taimina and geometer David Henderson.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: artist review, frame knitting, french knitting, john binet-fauvel, knitted, knitted art, sea creature, spinhandspun, spool knitting
Born in Jersey’s Channel Islands, John Binet-Fauvel’s oceanic roots have inspired him to craft sea creatures by recycling wire from slot machines, electric motors, transformers, and other found objects through the process of frame knitting. As a child, he fashioned tubing by winding wire around four nails stuck into a wooden cotton reel. Now, he uses the technique of French knitting, or spool knitting to sculpt his designs. The process is similar to finger-knitting, yet utilizes more elaborate, multi-pronged frames. While Binet-Fauvel creates his own frames in the shapes neededs to produce his elaborate forms, the wire’s stiffness allows him to further refine his figures.
He and his wife run the designer textile business “Melissa Warren”. His works are available on Etsy at: johnbinetfauvel.etsy.com.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: artist review, irina shaposhnikova, knitwear, spinhandspun
In June of 2009, Irina Shaposhnikova graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Aterwerp, Belgium. Though her masters collection, Crystallographica, focused on geometric galactic forms, I was floored by her former excursions into knitwear.
Here, it appears that Shaposhnikova has stripped the sweater dress of its structural guts, leaving only its decorative cables dangling precariously from their ribbed collars. But don’t be fooled — each cable is discretely sewn to a near-invisble mesh liner housing them in place. Her creative approach and ability to turn something so basic as a cable stitch on its head has me on my own! Look out Andrea Zittel — fiber enthusiasts may be coveting a new Six Month Uniform.
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: andrea zittel, artist review, felting, knitted, knitted art, six month uniform, spinhandspun
Andrea Zittel utilizes fibers and felting in many of her stunning “Six Month Uniforms” that are intended to be worn for much longer than the society she interacts with in them deems acceptable. Interestingly, Zittel developed her own crocheting process by replacing the crochet hook with her finger, allowing her to complete her work anywhere provided a single strand of yarn.
Zittel’s other work explores functional living, and she designs self-contained multifaceted units that compartmentalize an individual’s lifestyle into small, efficient spaces. It makes sense, then, that her textile work would focus in the durable ready-to-wear category… ready to wear everyday for the next six months, that is!
Filed under: artists in review | Tags: artist review, dave cole, knit art, knitted, knitting machine, spinhandspun
Dave Cole deconstructs the process of knitting itself by utilizing unlikely materials, such as extension cords and shredded American dollars in place of wool, and poles and fork lifts in place of needles. While we associate many of his materials (i.e. kevlar, shotguns, iron, and fiberglass) with pain, aggression, and violence, themes of comfort and domesticity often dominate his sculptures.
Cole’s work simultaneously evokes tension and humor. Visual puns are common, for example in Money Dress and Electric Blanket, as are flags and symbols of war. The domestic process of knitting is often exaggerated or made hyper-masculine.
In a 2008 ArtForum reviewed Cole’s solo show at the Judi Rotenberg Gallery stating, “Dave Cole blurs the lines between homespun and manufactures, innocent and subversive, nostalgic and postindustrial.” In essence, overall effect is to complicate our sense of security in the home by forcing us to confront war and capitalism in a domestic context.