Don’t expect to see Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting groups going to war against each other with darning needles in this exhibition, tying each other up with yarn. In fact, you won’t see a lot of yarn here at all.
Don Porcella’s “Making Room for New Ideas” — recalling Andy Warhol’s hand-stenciled plywood “Brillo Box” sculptures — is also a sculpture of a Brillo box, but it’s made from pipe cleaners. Warhol’s work, at least according to art critic Arthur Danto, qualified as art because he had the audacity to display his dead-on representations of commercially available products in an art gallery.
Porcella’s work strives for such audacity — or at least humorously references his antecedents. But do novel materials in of themselves really constitute new ideas? I was wondering about this when viewing Peter Clouse’s wall hanging garment made of woven electronic wiring entitled “Arduously.” This work made me recall “Communal Cloth” by Ghanian born artist El Anatsui made from bottlecaps and copper wire, which you can see at the IMA.
There were other such moments in this exhibition for me. It was hard not to look at Brian Prugh’s translucent layers of black nylon tulle in Cardinal/Fibonacci without recalling the hypnotic quality of certain Mark Rothko paintings.
It was hard to look at Tamara Kostianovsky’s “Siblings”–portraying two hanging slabs of beef hanging from meat hooks—without thinking of British artist Damien Hirst, who famously submerged a shark in tank of formaldehyde. But Kotianovsky’s slabs of beef are stitched together with pieces of fabric, her own repurposed clothing. To think about the domesticated nature of the materials stitched together to represent the savage thing being represented is to get boggled up in paradoxes.
Todd Knopke’s “Sky,” on the other hand, is more abstract. The one representational touch in this large nighttime sky of a tapestry is a pair of denim clad legs sticking up from the bottom edge. It’s as if the particular sky in question has taken a victim.
Speaking of victims, Kathryn Clark’s “By Sea” (the Aegean) is a document of the Syrian refugee crisis, with red thread representing migration routes across the Mediterranean on a wall-hanging map woven into fabric. Weaving such contemporary trauma into one’s work might just be a way to make room for new ideas when it too often seems like there’s nothing new under the sun in the art world.
Runs through Nov. 19