Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mysterious Content of Softness / BAM

Lauren DiCioccio, Still, Life 2009 - 2010
Hand-embroidered, hand-sewn and hand-painted assorted objects
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Fischer Gallery

I recommend heading across the water to check out Bellevue Art Museum's current exhibition, The Mysterious Content of Softness. Built around eleven artists (including locals Diem Chau and Rock Hushka) using fiber (or softness in the case of Angela Ellsworth's corsage pin bonnets) in new or different ways.

Lacey Jane Roberts, We Couldn’t Get In. We Couldn’t Get Out., 2006-2007
Hand-woven wire, crank-knit yarn, steel poles, assorted hardware
Courtesy of the artist

Some of these ways don't seem as revolutionary in our progressive Northwest as they might in other parts of the country. Artist inclusions like James Gobel, Lacey Jane Roberts, Nathan Vincent and duo Miller & Shellabarger rest primarily on the juxtaposition of masculine versus feminine. I feel like our region has a long history of gender fluidity in our art so the idea of a man knitting doesn't seem that surprising anymore - you probably see it on the bus on your morning commute. While the work might not revolutionary, it's certainly awe-inspiring. And I really like the quiet back story of Rock Hushka's Renaissance inspired tapestries whose act of creation is offered up as a meditation on ..."the sincere belief that each human can truly make a difference."

Miller & Shellabarger, Untitled (Crochet, Basel, Switzerland)
Archival pigment print, edition of 5, 1 AP, 2008
Courtesy of the artists and Western Exhibitions, Chicago, Illinois

I think the inherent tenderness of Miller & Shellabarger's public love is what makes Pink Tube so great. It transcends the examination of gender to become a document of their everlasting love. Began as a performance piece in 2003, they will continue to work on it (in public only) until one of them dies, at which point the remaining partner will unravel it.

Diem Chau, Legacy, 2010
Porcelain plate, organza & thread
Image courtesy of artist and G. Gibson Gallery

It's a big exhibit with really interesting work. I really liked Jeremy Chase Sanders' synesthesia-inspired queer plaids. And of course I love Lauren DiCioccio's celebration of everyday objects. It's always great to see a wall of Diem Chau's delicate embroidered porcelain. Angela Ellsworth's 9 Seer Bonnets each reference one of polygamist Lorenzo Snow's wives. Angela Hennssey examines race by shredding black velvet. Lacy Jane Roberts renders a security/prison fence impotent by limply recreating it with fuschia yarn. James Goebel makes larger than life fabric bear paintings. Nathan Vincent recreates an entire men's locker room - out of yarn. Lisa Kellner investigates the body through silk organza.


The Mysterious Content of Softness is curated by Stefano Catalani and will be on view through June 26, 2011.


L.J. said...

You might want to proof-read and edit your post--Lacey Jane Roberts is the name of the artist. Lacey Peterson was the person murdered in California by her husband.

Joey Veltkamp said...

Ack! I know - I had just corrected that. Don't know how I managed to get right the first two times and mess up the third. Fixed now. Thanks!