Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Chicago art 2 -- Latin American fiber
I apologize for taking so long to get back to my visit to Chicago several weeks ago. In mainstream museums I always like to keep an eye out for art made from fiber, and I found lots of interesting examples. Today's three artists are all Latin American.
Rafael Ferrer, A Flag for the Straits of Magellan, detail below
This work, made in 1972, is an imaginary flag for Puerto Rico, the artist's birthplace, which he envisions not as a U.S. territory but as a faraway independent place. Hung far up in a dim corner of a dark gallery, the flag was hard to see; the sign said it includes fabric, rawhide, leather, wire, pipe cleaners, rope and various other stuff. The triangular shape, 3-D surface and midnight colors made it considerably more exotic than your run-of-the-mill flag.
Hanging right below the triangular flag is this large unstretched canvas by an Argentinian artist who lives in Guatemala. Her shtick is to apply the pigment, mixed with glue as a binder, with a machete, and to leave it outside to weather. I'm not sure exactly how she achieved the distinct raised effect, or even whether we're seeing real shadows or just 2-D differences in value, but I like the subtlety of the patterns. I wished for more light and a better view (I adjusted the exposure so the detail shot is lighter than in real life).
What could be simpler -- get some wool felt, cut out some shapes, hang it on the wall. He may have used a laser cutter because the edges are perfectly finished; very little trace of the artist's hand in this piece. According to the sign, the shapes are "abstracted from popular culture and children's literature." That may be an overreach, but the shapes are beautifully drawn and composed, and the slight distance away from the wall allows shadows to punctuate the image. The kneeling figures are not part of this installation, although they look right at home.