Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Jane Dunnewold extravaganza -- part 3

I wrote earlier about Jane Dunnewold's show in Louisville.  I want to return to that subject to zero in on one aspect of the work: its presentation.

Jane remarked at a gallery talk earlier this week that she thinks one way we can "escape from the textile ghetto" is to experiment with new ways of finishing and presentation of fiber art work.  She thinks that the traditional methods of binding and facing quilts and other wall pieces may contribute to these works not being regarded as mainstream art.  And though she said she really doesn't want to have to frame her works or otherwise compromise their presentation to make them resemble traditional painting forms, she resents that less than she resents the pigeonholing and downgrading of fiber art.

She suggested that fiber artists might fruitfully explore the use of fusibles to permit clean cut edges.  She and many of her students are finishing their work that way.

For her show here, she came up with an exciting new way to present those clean-finished pieces.  Rather than simply hang them against the wall, she got short spacers made from aluminum tubing that screw to the wall.  A metal bar is screwed to the spacers, and the top of the work is attached to the bar with industrial-strength two-faced Scotch tape.

The tape is sturdy but peels easily off the Lutradur backing of the work, so it can be taken down and rolled for shipping, or to allow the screws to be repositioned, or for the work to be framed if a buyer likes that presentation better (or to take a picture of the hanging system).

Jane has just come up with this display method, and she told us that she had a couple of pieces hanging in her studio for a week or more just to test whether the work would hang nicely suspended only from the bar.  It passed the test, so she shipped everything off to Louisville.

But almost immediately after the pieces were hung in the gallery, they started to curl up -- different heat and humidity profile!  There ensued a frantic search for more spacers, and eventually two more were installed at the bottom corners of each piece as an emergency fix.  The bottom edge of the work was stuck to the top of the spacer with a small bit of the tape.

Here's a view of the bottom spacer; the tape stuck to the work and can't be seen in this picture.

Jane thinks that in the future she will use the aluminum bars at both top and bottom to keep the work nice and flat. 

The spacers made for a striking presentation, allowing the works to cast slight shadows and giving a lot more oomph than if they had been flat against the wall.  It's certainly an approach that other fiber artists might want to consider.


  1. You really did a great job of explaining Jane's system of hanging her work.

  2. Kathy, I've really enjoyed reading your report of Jane's show and her approach to the work created. The unique hanging system is quite interesting. I know that Barbara Lee Smith uses velcro attached to a frame for her lutrador backed pieces. The main problem I can see with Jane's pieces is that more and more galleries and other exhibition venues are using the Walker or other system and don't allow screws or even nails to attach artwork to the wall. It is an ongoing challenge.

  3. What a unique system and finishing technique.