In Intimate Lines: Drawing with Thread, 16 artists wield a needle like a pen to compose intensely personal stories and record intimate histories.
In this upcoming Hunterdon Art Museum exhibition, which opens Sept. 17, artists deal with relationships, gender and identity; their works show exquisite textured drawings that expand upon textile traditions to make compelling contemporary statements.
“Stitching is an intimate physical act, closely connected to the body,” said Carol Eckert, who is curating this exhibition. “An often solitary process, it is at once time-intensive, relentless and contemplative. The artists in this exhibition create works that are inextricable from the process itself — intensely personal figurative images drawn with tangible stitched lines.”
Using thread as both a tactile and symbolic medium, these artists approach the traditionally painstaking process of embroidery with a modern sensibility. Building upon historic textile processes and working within the tradition of figurative imagery, they create dialogues between old and new — dialogues intensified by the use of found embroideries, vintage postcards, old photographs, and paper maps.
Viewers will also discover everything from the history of textiles and traditional toile patterns to modern pop culture references to comic book heroes and selfies.
For instance, artist Richard Saja employs traditional toile patterns – toile is French for cloth, and today refers to a one-color print typically of a pastoral scene or arrangement of flowers – and interrupts them. He’ll embroider, say, wings on a monkey or ladybugs on a flower.
Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen incorporates Latin American needlework practices and the women she has met and the stories they told are represented in her work. “My purpose as an artist is to examine the experiences women share: stories, skills, and traditions passed on to younger generations,” Wiskirchen noted.
Regarding contemporary references, Sophia Narrett’s work is drawn through pop culture references, whether it’s the television programs The Bachelor and Orange Is the New Black, or rapper Kendrick Lamar. She has three pieces in this show, including “I Can’t Stop Crying Except Sometimes When I Think About Ari Gold,” a reference to the character portrayed by Jeremy Piven in the TV program Entourage.
Eckert said Narett’s complex, colorful narratives were developed from her background as a painter. “Hand-stitched with vibrant cotton threads, her expressive compositions referencing pop culture and social issues float slightly off the wall, casting shadows that emphasize their three-dimensional qualities,” Eckert said.
Diem Chau, whose figurative images are stitched across porcelain vessels, creates delicate vignettes of fleeting memory, gesture and form, resulting in works that combine an egalitarian sensibility with a minimalist restraint. Her work touches on the value of storytelling, myths, and how those connect us all.
And, while most of the show’s artists use hand stitching, Paul Nosa works with a solar-powered sewing machine to construct intricate narratives that often include map imagery.
Also featured in this exhibition are artists Pinky Bass, Mary Bero, Patricia Dahlman, Michelle Kingdom, Daniel Kornrumpf, Aurora Molina, Mark Newport, Iviva Olenick, Stacey Page, Ehren Elizabeth Reed and Melissa Zexter.
Intimate Lines: Drawing with Thread’s opening reception is Sunday, Sept. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. It runs until Jan. 7, 2018.
The Museum will host two exhibition-related workshops featuring artists appearing in the show:
• Paul Nosa’s Solar Sewing Rover Project (Sunday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.): Using his solar powered sewing machine, Nosa will make a patch illustrating the five words guests give him. Nosa’s sewing system is comprised of a Singer CG590 powered by a solar panel, a bicycle, a 12-volt permanent fixed magnetic motor and a 2-volt deep cycle marine battery. This event will run outside on the Museum’s Toshiko Takaezu Terrace before and during the opening of the Intimate Lines: Drawing With Thread exhibition. Event is free, and no registration is required.
• Embroidered Poetry Workshop (Sunday, Oct. 8, 12:30 p.m.): Artist Iviva Olenick and several poets will lead an Embroidered Poetry Workshop for adults and children ages 9 and up accompanied by an adult. The program iwll begin with a brief embroidery lesson, followed by a professional poetry reading while participants embroider select words and phrases. Poets will offer lessons on drafting personal verse, and then participants will embroider their poems. Cost $10 per person.
This exhibition is generously supported by the Coby Foundation, Ltd.
The Museum is at 7 Lower Center St. in Clinton, New Jersey, 08809. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm and suggested admission is $5.