“I worry that the information age is making us very good at symbolization at the expense of bringing us into contact with that which we do not know and for which we have no categories.” —Laura U. Marks
In recent years, fiber art has eluded characterization as it has infiltrated traditional art practices and expanded into installation and performance. As fiber-based art has grown more mainstream, however, its material-based, multidisciplinary practice risks being compromised, overlooked, or assimilated by the contemporary art world.
MATERIAL FIX is a contemplation of fiber’s unique material specificity and the ways a range of artists join process with current theoretical and aesthetic concerns. The exhibition examines the manner in which the artists in MATERIAL FIX insist on the materiality of their work, questioning the detached sense of vision associated with this digital age where appearances are often separate from real-life existence. The exhibition suggests that, in an age dominated by linear, cerebral, and linguistic analysis, it is more important than ever to reinforce awareness of humanity’s shared physical experience.
Rubbing one’s hand over the upholstery of a favorite armchair, noticing a sweater’s softness and warmth when folding it, recognizing the smell of a loved one when hanging up his or her coat—these are moments of everyday life that are frequently experienced but rarely remarked upon. They are, as French novelist, essayist, and filmmaker Georges Perec writes, “the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual,” and they are, in part, composed of sensual and felt qualities. These are described by some as “affect,” feelings that precede cognition and denote the intensity of aliveness. Affects, cultural theorist Raymond Williams writes, “...do not have to await definition, classification, or rationalization before they exert palpable pressures.” While language is not frequently used to interpret these events, these are moments that remind us we are sensual beings and contribute to the complex layers of meaning that make our lives what they are. They constitute a significant part of the experience of connecting human beings to one another.
This group exhibition, which anchors the series, features 22 artists: Polly Apfelbaum (NY), Jen Bervin (NY), Louise Bourgeois (1911– 2010), Sonya Clark (VA), Dave Cole (RI), Jim Drain (FL), Josh Faught (CA), Susie Ganch (VA), David R. Harper (WI), Jesse Harrod (PA), Elana Herzog (NY), Amy Honchell (IL), Yuni Kim Lang (MI), Christy Matson (CA), Cat Mazza (NY), John Paul Morabito (IL), Sheila Pepe (NY), Piper Shepard (MD), Alyson Shotz (NY), Deborah Valoma (CA), Katarina Weslien (ME), and Anne Wilson (IL).