Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Zanesville Superlatives 1

Last week I was in Ohio for a family get-together and took a day trip to Zanesville to check out  Superlatives: Contemporary Ohio Quilts, with work by seven Ohio quilters. 

The big draw in this show is Nancy Crow, arguably the premier art quilter in the world, and she sent an interesting variety of work.  Two relatively recent pieced works from her current Constructions series, two screenprinted works (a technique she has recently learned and been experimenting with), and two relatively old pieces, one from her Chinese Souls series and this from her Color Blocks series.

Nancy Crow, Color Blocks #69, 1995

The work is spectacular, but I was a bit disappointed by the varying styles and series.  Not enough quantity or variety to constitute a retrospective, where you could trace the development of her ideas, yet not enough cohesiveness of the work on display. 

The exhibit catalog mentioned that one of its objectives was "to view quiltmakers as artists who may create many quilts.  Like painters or potters, most quilt artists change their style and practices to suit their evolving vision and skills."  Yet without artist statements, curator notes or other clues, it's hard for viewers to detect and appreciate the subtleties in such variety. 

I was surprised by one of the quilts displayed by Deborah Melton Anderson, another of the featured artists.

Deborah Melton Anderson, Imagining the Seasons, 2011  (detail)

The piece is constructed from many little folded "neckties" -- an adorable and appealing technique.  I had seen and enjoyed some of Deborah's necktie pieces several years ago at a gallery in Columbus and assumed that this work was from that vintage.  But no, this one was new, so I had little idea of how it fits into the "evolving vision" referenced in the catalog.

Deborah Melton Anderson, Hourglass II, 2005

Here's another of Deborah's quilts that I liked, using traditional block patterns.  But again, I couldn't tell how it fit into her "evolving vision," since it was made in 2005 and the quilt hanging next to it, with the same sensibility, was finished last year. 

A third artist in the show was Rebecca Cross, whose technique is to shape silk organza into elaborate pleats and protrusions while shibori dyeing.  Some of her organza extravaganzas are affixed to backings, others hang free-form and weightless in space. 

Rebecca Cross, Cleave, 2009  (detail below)

Rebecca Cross, Untitled Installation

I'll write tomorrow about other artists in the show.  It continues at the Zanesville Museum of Art through July 14.

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