Whether it’s a finely-crafted piece of clothing, an adornment for the home or a luxurious piece for comfort, a fine fabric has the power to transport you. Experience an exhibition celebrating the marriage of old world and new as the Hunterdon County Art Museum shines the light on a classic: lace.
A ground-breaking exhibition highlighting how lace makers are expanding the traditional boundaries of their art form to create exciting work that investigates contemporary themes, materials and forms opens at the Hunterdon Art Museum on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Lace, not Lace: Contemporary Fiber Art from Lacemaking Techniques reveals how contemporary fiber artists are applying traditional bobbin and needle lace techniques to new and exciting fibers, filaments, colors, and textures. The exhibition features 41 works of lace art by 28 artists from around the world.
“I wanted to include artists who had been major figures in the lace revival of the 1970s, as well as younger artists who had benefited from their innovations and discoveries.” -Devon Thein, international lace expert, curator of Lace, not Lace.
Thein hopes the exhibition will introduce the public and the art community to needle and bobbin lace techniques that aren’t widely known.
“I suppose I would like it if people could differentiate between the popular conception of lace as a white substance with holes, a textile that is simultaneously erotic, virginal and grandmotherly, and the fiber art techniques that were used to construct lace historically,” she said.
Experience Lace through The Urchins
Hunterdon County will play host to the very first US appearance of the Urchins, two lace orbs, each 15-feet in diameter, conceived and created by Jin Choi + Thomas Shine, Architects. This exhibition marks the first United States appearance of the Urchins, which has been shown only in Singapore and Australia. More than 50 people dedicated three months to meticulously hand-craft the lace shells that are held in tension over an aluminum frame. The Urchins will hang above the Museum’s Toshiko Takaezu Terrace, which overlooks the waterfall on the South Branch of the Raritan River. Suspended from thin, almost invisible cables spanning trusses that are 20 feet high, the Urchins create an interesting theatrical relationship of the seers and the seen. The Urchins will make a two-week appearance at the museum.
A Life-Long Labor
Another showstopper is Lieve Jerger’s Carriage of Lost Love, which the artist has spent four decades creating. The work is a life-size carriage made of copper wire using bobbin lace technique. The Carriage of Lost Love began with just one panel, the Traveler window. But that sparked Jerger’s imagination and compelled her to build a complete ceremonial carriage that has been a labor of love for decades.
“I never thought of giving up, not even when wires kept breaking when I pulled them too tight,” Jerger noted. “Even heavy gauge copper wire must be handled gently and kinks are unforgiving, but the strength and brilliance of copper wire is what seduced me.”
A Debut to Boot
The show also marks the debut of Penny Nickels’ piece Jersey Devil, which employs a variety of needle and lace stitches to achieve different tones. “It’s exciting because there aren’t too many pieces of art that celebrate New Jersey’s unique folklore figure, the Jersey Devil,” Thein said. “Penny Nickels spent 1,500 hours making this peon to the mythic demon of the Pine Barrens.”
Other artists in the show are: Manca Ahlin, Jane Atkinson, Daniela Banatova, Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova, J Carpenter, Jill Nordfors Clark, Milča Eremiášová, Pierre Fouché, Laura Friesel, Alex Goldberg, Maggie Hensel-Brown, Ágnes Herczeg, Ros Hills, Veronika Irvine, Nava Lubelski, Dorie Millerson, Wako Ono, E.J.Parkes, Lenka Suchanek, Lauran Sundin, Olivia Valentine, Nicole Valsesia-Lair, Denise Watts, Louise West, and Ashley Williams.
A public opening reception will be held on September 23rd, with featured talks by Thein, Jin Choi, and Thomas Shine. Festivities will follow with live music, a food truck, and and the lighting of the Urchins at dusk. The exhibition runs until Jan. 6, 2019. The special limited engagement for Jin Choi + Thomas Shine’s the Urchins ends Oct. 7. The exhibition Lace, not Lace: Contemporary Fiber Art from Lacemaking Techniques is generously supported by The Coby Foundation, Ltd. Support also provided by the International Organization of Lace, Inc. and Holiday Inn Clinton-Bridgewater.