Friday, August 26, 2016

Bluegrass Biennial 1 -- best in show

The Bluegrass Biennial, a juried, all-medium art show, is held every other year at the Claypool-Young Gallery at Morehead State University.  It's open to any artist living in Kentucky and always has a great diversity of mediums and techniques, especially "materials-based," "craft" kinds of work that are sometimes scarce among the paintings in mainstream art shows.  This week I went to the closing reception and was pleased to find that eight of the 37 pieces were fiber, including the best in show!

Best in show was this series of five embossed paper sheets by Deborah Levine (full disclosure: she's my close friend and art pal).

Deborah Levine, Destruct/Reconstruct (details) 

Each sheet is embossed with a swatch of knitting.  In sheet one, the swatch sits at top left.  In sheet two, a bit of the the swatch has been unraveled and the free end has been used to cast on and start knitting a new swatch at bottom right.

In  sheets three and four, the original swatch loses more and more yarn, while the new swatch gets bigger; finally in the last sheet, there's only the new swatch at bottom right.

I was struck by how well the paper took the imprint of the knitting (she used a nylon cord that didn't get waterlogged during the casting process) and how the story was so engrossing.  A beautiful piece.

Deborah has another piece in the show, also made from fiber.  This one had a bunch of cylinders made from wrapped and tied strips of fabric, made rigid with an industrial-strength plastic medium and mounted on a found board.

Deborah Levine, Huddled Masses 1 (detail below)

Her urge to narrative surfaces again in this piece, with the abstract wrapped forms taking on life -- tilt your head 90 degrees and they might be boat people heading for refuge on a tiny raft.

I'll show you more of the fiber works in the show in subsequent posts.