Art spaces, Artists, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles

Entering the experiences of others

Imagine walking into a room where masses of cloth that appear to be stained with something like soot or even dirt are arranged over almost the entire floor. Huge paper panels hang from the walls, smeared with dull-coloured stains. Are these marks made by nature or the human hand? Are the surfaces weathered? Accidental? Angry? This was my response on entering the work of Carmen Argote, a Mexican artist living in the US, whose practice focuses strongly on her immediate environment, and her personal responses to it.

This exhibition, As Above, So Below, curated by Margot Norton at New York’s New Museum, is the result of two artist residencies the artist has undertaken in Guadalajara where she delved deeply into the rural and agricultural environments she encountered.

Responding to her surroundings through observation, bodily awareness, local architecture and agricultural activity, she has used materials from those environments directly in the works themselves. Organic substances like coffee, pine needles, avocado and cochineal are embedded into cloth and smudged onto paper through a process of dyeing, or applied to a support like paint. Reflecting an amalgamation of the corporeal and the spiritual in Argote’s practice, her exhibition’s title speaks to a belief in sacred geometry that sees Earth as a reflection of the heavens.

The scale of the installation seems to suck you in to taste the atmosphere she herself experienced. Argote’s work is a deeply felt response to her culture, new environments, and the political and economic relationship we all have with the land.

It was one of the memorable textile-based exhibitions I encountered on my recent trip to the US.

I loved the cluster of beautiful little textile collages I found by German artist Hannelore Baron at the Guggenheim‘s Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection exhibition. Small, thoughtful and quite pained, they are exquisite little assemblages of life experience.

Born in Dillingen, Germany, in 1926, Baron and her family fled to New York in 1941 to escape the escalating Nazi hold over Europe. Sadly the trauma inflicted on her led to mental breakdowns and claustrophobia as an adult and she lived out her troubled life in an insular and solitary way.

Her work embodies a deep sadness, interwoven with the fragile specialness of life and the uncertainties inherent in the human condition. It’s as though she has caught fragments of things while they were falling around her and cobbled them together in a way that both reveals and conceals her personal experiences and her inner turmoil of depression, claustrophobia and life-long breakdowns.

Beautiful little works in every way.

While in San Francisco it was a treat to accidentally stumble upon a beautiful, intimately scaled exhibition of lovingly mended central Asian storage bags at the de Young Museum. The Turkmen Storage Bag exhibition highlighted not only the different designs of cultural groups but the amazing mending evident on most of the pieces. I’m always drawn to mending for a variety of reasons so I was a sucker for this one. These pieces were lush and richly coloured. So important, so useful, and so laden with meaning, that the wear and tear, as well as the repair stitching, was simply and artfully magic.

Small and thoughtfully put together, this was another textile highlight of the trip.

I love the feeling of excitement that goes with chance discovery. Seeing how others respond to life experience is always an education in itself. What better way to do this than through engaging with art?

rhondapryor.com

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contemporaryart, Experiments, Photographs, Studio practice, Textiles

Processing thoughts, thinking through processes

I’ve been doing some research in the studio. Mind-wandering. Taking time. Considering how things will move forward.

Although I mostly work with textiles and photography, I think my creative practice reflects my painting background in many ways. I find both these media useful and evocative tools to work with, that invite interpretation of memory, feeling and sense of place. 

Digital print on silk, silk thread

I love the process of creation. I love the sense of wonder at what might happen, in spite of the fact there are roadblocks along the way. You have an idea you want to explore and at times it just seems to go nowhere, until one little thing looks promising. Pursuing that one little thing can lead to another promising lead – or nothing worthwhile at all. That’s the territory. Still, curiosity tends to win out.

I’m inclined to spend lots of time tinkering, thinking and accumulating, before taking concrete action. Internal worlds have always occupied my interest.

Digital print on canvas, embroidery thread

These works are in-progress pieces that I hope illustrate a little of my present process. I’ve been looking at pinhole photography, printed onto cloth, in combination with stitching. Still investigating memory responses, the stitching is a nod to the human element in the images – not literal, but evocative of human presence.

Digital print on Belgian linen, embroidery thread

Over the next few months these pieces will evolve into a direction for an upcoming solo exhibition early next year. 

Check in occasionally to see how it all progresses…

All the best,

rhondapryor.com

rhondapryor10@gmail.com

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Art classes, Art spaces, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

Mid-show reminder: Stories We Tell Ourselves

Stories_pink

Hello again.

My exhibition Stories We Tell Ourselves is in the middle of its run at 541 Art Space (Level 1, 541 Kent Street, Sydney, www.541artspace.com.au). If you haven’t yet seen it, you’ll need to get a move on. It closes on Saturday September 22.

I’m running one more textile workshop on the final day. If you’re interested in coming along please contact the gallery: 541artspace_program@nanhaimedia.com (closing drinks are included!).

In the meantime here are some images from the opening night.



Much gratitude goes to Alison Clark, Team Leader Arts and Culture North Sydney Council, for her thoughtful and eloquent opening speech.

Below are a couple of images from the first workshop. Mounds of linen, textile scraps and yarn – a lovely way to spend a spring afternoon!


I hope you get to see the exhibition. I’d love to know what you think.

Warm wishes,

www.rhondapryor.com

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