TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Several Exhibits at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles has several exhibits worth visiting. I had not heard of them before, but when a friend from Paducah Fiber Artists sent me the notice, I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to visit this place. Here is some background on the museum:

"The mission of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is to promote the art, craft and history of quilts and textiles.

Textile art transcends cultural, ethnic, age and gender boundaries and encompasses traditional as well as contemporary forms. The museum provides a serious venue for all artists working with textiles, filling a void left by larger institutions with a narrower view of what defines artistic expression. Its exhibits and programs promote the appreciation of quilts and textiles as art and provide an understanding of their role in the lives of their makers, in cultural traditions, and as historical documents."

The Shows:

June 17 – August 24, 2008
Beyond Knitting: Uncharted Stitches

Beyond Knitting is an awakening to the brave new world of sculptural knitting. With pieces that are both visually stunning and intellectually provocative, the exhibition highlights the tremendous variety of approaches and subject matter that contemporary textile artists here and abroad are tackling using knitting as the primary technique.

“Knitting shapes have long been defined by the human form,” said exhibit guest co-curator Adrienne Sloane. “Knitting has moved from clothing geometry to sculpture, joining other textile art media in taking advantage of the form’s rich and powerful historical references. The knit art in this exhibit links us emotionally to the past while presenting an important visual commentary on the present.”

Added Museum curator Deborah Corsini, “Beyond Knitting uncovers the most current and exciting art being created today by a new generation of knitters who are moving away from any traditional focus of knitting to arenas of wall art, sculpture and installation. Each of the artists selected for this exhibition transforms the simple notion of needles and yarn with new techniques and fibers to create work that is haunting, humorous, political and personal.”

The exhibition includes ethereal wire sculptures by Czech artist Blanka Sperkova, who developed her own technique of finger-knitting fine wire with a basic looping stitch to create human and animal representations as well as abstract forms. The result is an interplay of the sculpted forms and the transparency of the knitted wire in multi-layered, textured pieces that play with light and shadow. (Photo: Pillow by Blanka Sperkova)

Lindsay Obermeyer’s surprising work deals with issues of genetic inheritance, aging, and motherhood. Her knitted sweaters with their unusual appendages manifest the hidden nature of her own inner worrisome thoughts and issues. “On the surface her pieces are bright, humorous and attractive, but there is a darker, deeper content to this work that reflects questions and concerns we all face,” said Corsini. (Photo: Genetic Inheritance (Detail) by Lindsay Obermeyer, 2006 photo credit: Larry Sanders)

This exhibition is co-presented by The Knitting Guild Association an organization whose mission is to provide education and communication to advance the quality of workmanship and creativity in knitting, and encourage interest in the art of knitting.

The artists included in the exhibition are:
Katharine Cobey
Donna Lish
Ruth Marshall
Janet Morton
Kerry Mosley
Mark Newport
Lindsay Obermeyer
Karen Paust
Karen Searle
Adrienne Sloane
Blanka Sperkova

June 17 – August 24, 2008

Pun Intended: The Appliquéd Wit of Dorothy Vance

Pun Intended: The Appliquéd Wit of Dorothy Vance, features 14 humorous quilts juxtaposing folk art, politics and pop culture. Dorothy Vance is known for her unique, clever and humanly charming folk art quilts, and this exhibition showcases this original work and the vision of an imaginative and irrepressible artistic personality.

Throughout her life, Vance engaged in various sorts of arts and crafts including pottery, tile making, bread making, writing, and graphic design. In 1977, Vance began to stitch, and continued to create new works until her death in February 2007 at the age of 77. She combined her writing and sewing skills to embed clever irony and wit into such quilts as the award-winning Presidents; the limerick-filled quilt There Was An Old Man; and Odd Couples, a humorous pairing of icons from history and popular culture who share the same last name, such as Nat and Lana Turner, Karl and Harpo Marx, and James and Marilyn Monroe.

Bob Shaw, a curator and appraiser, wrote of her work, “Vance used her stitched and appliquéd art to express her political views and wide ranging interests in wryly humorous and complexly allusive ways. Most of her quilts feature cartoon-like caricatures of historical and contemporary figures, and many incorporate her own humorous verse, which compares favorably with the work of Ogden Nash.”

Photos: Call Me Doctor (Detail) by Dorothy Vance, 2004 and Odd Couples (Detail) by Dorothy Vance, 2006

June 17 – August 24, 2008

In Javanese Moonlight: Sha Sha Higby in Transition

Sha Sha Higby approaches dance through the medium of sculpture. She creates intricate costumes of materials such as wood, silk, paper and gold leaf and animates them with subtlety and grace in performances of her own contemplative form of dance.

In Javanese Moonlight features three of the monumental, sculptural forms that Sha Sha Higby wears in performance. This exhibit situates Higby’s artwork within the context of Indonesian batik traditions. Like batik artists, whose work is deliberate and slow—not infrequently taking months or even years to produce one stunning length of cloth—Higby mines the spiritual meaning in the physical discipline required to devote up to two years developing a complex sculptural form. As stationary art objects and moving sculpture in Higby’s performances, these forms are an invitation to a meditative space, where time slows down and we find ourselves quietly contemplating life’s mysteries.

Higby’s contemporary mixed-media fiber sculptures are juxtaposed with rare royal Indonesian batiks from her own collection and the private collection of Noeleke Glenn Klavert. These batiks introduce visitors to the many cultural symbols that have shaped the iconic designs found in Indonesian batiks and have informed the artistic and spiritual practices behind Sha Sha Higby’s creations. Design influences in these batiks can be traced to India, China, Japan, the Middle East and Holland.

Photo: Sleeping in a Sandstorm (Detail) by Sha Sha Higby, 2002
Photo by Albert Holander

June 17 – August 24, 2008
Crocheted Reef and Anemone Garden

Crocheted Reef and Anemone Garden is an installation of sea life created by the 7th grade class at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, California. Students created this coral reef, composed of approximately 500 crocheted life forms, including coral, sea sponges, squid, sea stars, sea jellies and urchins, as part of a hands-on experiential unit combining art, science and language arts and to draw attention to conditions threatening the world's coral reefs.

Lots of inspiration here! Looks like a wonderful place.

The Museum has a gift shop that might be a venue for those of you who are looking for new markets. Although they focus mostly on local artists, it can't hurt to find out what other opportunities they may have or know about.

520 South First Street
San Jose, California 95113


1 comment:

  1. Can you believe I lived in Los Gatos - right next door to San Jose - for TEN YEARS and I never once looked into this museum? I wasn't even aware of it. Bummer.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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