Opening Reception: Material Cultures Exhibition
DATE • Sep 7, 2016 • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Gallery at BRIC House
647 Fulton Street (Enter on Rockwell Place) Brooklyn, NY 11217
Marela Zacarias, Oulad Bou Sbaa, 2016
JOIN US FOR THE OPENING RECEPTION!
Jordana Munk Martin, founder of Oak Knit Studio and TATTER.org, Brooklyn
Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President of Contemporary Art, BRIC
Jenny Gerow, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, BRIC
Material Cultures is a group exhibition featuring the work of eight contemporary visual artists who engage with and respond to essential elements of textile: weaving, pattern, draping, embellishing, and wearing. One of the oldest forms of human production, textiles maintain profound connections to history, ritual practice, cultural identity, creative expression, and politics. Working with sculpture, installation, performance, and social practice, the artists in Material Cultures produce works that highlight the role of textiles in shaping traditional and contemporary culture, recognizing the conceptual power of cloth as reflective of the human experience. Exhibiting artists include Laura Anderson Barbata, Xenobia Bailey, Lucia Cuba, Adrian Esparza, Elana Herzog, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, Sophia Narrett, and Marela Zacarias.
Some of the artists in Material Cultures respond to existing cloth as objects with the power to stimulate memory or meaning, using the charged implications of textiles to unravel specific aspects of culture. Laura Anderson Barbata exhibits a group of costumes that explore the ways in which indigo - a dye used in fabric internationally and carrying varied political and social implications - functions when activated by the body. Elana Herzog explores the physicality of the Persian rug—a domestic object, an emblem of civilization—as well as ideas of collapse and growth. Her work tells a history of evolution yet alludes to the ruinous fate of objects, nature, order, and social structures.
Other artists produce their work using such textile-specific techniques as crochet and embroidery. Working with crochet since the 1970s and drawn to the “aesthetic of funk,” costume designer and artist Xenobia Bailey presents a crocheted tent, a form that suggests protection, the gospel revival tent of the American rural south, and the realm of mythology. And Sophia Narrett uses complex embroidered paintings to explore the dark underside of American popular culture and its expectations of women, gathering content from reality TV, tabloids, social media, and her own experiences. Artist Lucia Cuba finds meaning in textiles by conceiving them as wearable objects with agency. She continues exploring issues of health and politics through her project Exercises on Health - Part 2, a series of garment-base explorations developed through interviews conducted with individuals dealing with cancer. The garments are meant to trigger conversations about illness and health, and the ways we experience and understand them.
Still other artists find powerful content within the technical aspects of cloth-making, drawing formal connections between textile technique and artistic concept. Inspired by his childhood on the borderlands between Mexico and the United States, Adrian Esparza uses the stereotypical symbol of traditional Mexican culture, the serape, and deconstructs it to create ephemeral geometric abstractions, expanding upon the ability for cultural objects to be understood and interacted with. Also growing up near the Mexican/ United States border, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia paints long strips of paper that he painstakingly weaves together to create large-scale works that entwine artistic techniques and disparate ideas of popular tradition with contemporary aesthetics, of art with craft, and of the artist’s roots with his current life. As a stunning centerpiece to the exhibition, Marela Zacarias presents a monumentally scaled white monochrome sculpture that appears to cascade down the gallery wall that mimics the appearance of fabric and highlights the significance of draping to textiles and to art history.
Additional support for this exhibition provided by the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
The 3,000 square-foot Gallery in BRIC House has soaring 18-foot ceilings that permit major exhibitions focusing on emerging and mid-career artists and curators.