Curatorial Statement – Counterbalance
Counterbalance features work that fits loosely into the genres of textiles and wood. The word “counterbalance” is both the strategy of the exhibition and a nod to a type of weaving loom, as this exhibition was initially centered around weaving but grew into a more complicated dialog. The assertive geometric forms of these textiles counterbalance the empathetic design and organic fluidity found in the wood works. These objects surprise and misbehave, as they queerly counter our preconceived notions of how these materials should act.
All of the textile works on view remain rooted in the weaving process, though they both defy and stretch this categorization. Heather Mackenzie, a weaver acutely attuned to the mathematics of the process, rejects the notions that weavings are 2-dimensional, comforting, or soft. Combining fuzzy mohair with iridescent curling ribbon, they unfold ingeniously from a flat plane and question the binary of traditional warp and weft.
Phoebe Kou’s coopered wood sculptures slump over edges and snake across corners. At times vaguely functional, these wood forms are more akin to jewelry than a rigid wood sculpture. They appear to react to gravity much in the same way that Liz Collin’s colorful threads drape softly between two panels. Collins’ vibrant woven work is both taught and tattered, engineered and hand-manipulated. It is both painting and drapery, forming an animated connection between two square bodies. The human body itself completes the playful furniture design of Annie Evelyn, whose silk chairs are wearable seating extending outward as a high collar or the train of a dress.
Embracing a meticulous aesthetic, Ruby Troup identifies as a cabinetmaker though her wooden wall vessels are non-functional, emotive, and obsessively embellished. Na Chainkua Reindorf also embraces embellishment, applying geometric beaded patterns onto a hand-woven solid color tapestry background, subverting the notion of tapestry as image-based weaving. Avoiding the traditional weaving material of yarn, Kelly Dzioba goes so far as to weave together party beads into minimalist sculptures. In these Donald Judd-esque wall works, Jewelry becomes Textile becomes Sculpture.
Much of the outdated hierarchy of “art” and “craft” connected fastidious textile-based processes to feminine labor, while fields like Sculpture and woodworking were historically male-dominated. The collection of works in this exhibition, created by female artists many of whom identify as queer, seeks to confuse these distinctions. Using a hybridized language of adornment and structure, wood objects drape over corners and conform to the body, while textiles muscle in with bold color and rigid form. Works scale walls and shimmer from across the room in this exhibition that plays with our understanding of hard edges and soft curves.
Erika Diamond / Assistant Director of CVA Galleries