Sunday, February 1, 2009

Needle Power

We are experiencing a renaissance for the needle as a tool in the textile arts. The movement is alive and all generations are involved. I recently increased the number of my textile art workshops this year. It has been a delight to share this magnificent space with other like-minded and spirited people.

Thirty years ago, artists Judy Chicago, Joyce Wieland and other women around the world, shifted the patriarchal paradigm and inspired the needle tool to have power. Their art spoke loud of women's equality, society's gender role-playing and the essence of being a modern woman. Through their work, they showed that the textile arts could convey more than a pretty picture; the medium could acknowledge profound concepts, metaphors, and feelings. These roots have taken hold and the movement is embracing many lives. We are at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius and perhaps women coming into their own, are a sign are of this shift.

The installation The Dinner Party created by Judy Chicago was a collaborative effort of many female artists. The art celebrated women’s accomplishments throughout history. Their choice of medium was the textile arts. There was a lot of buzz when the show opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1982. Having just having left the Arctic a year earlier, I had already fallen for the work with the stitch.Since then, I have watched the climb of gender equality in the art community. It has been a good time historically to be a woman as well as an artist. The textile arts is being recognized more then ever before. The stigma that was attached with Needlecraft, a term coined in the Victorian era, has now been lifted.

The 80's was a happening decade for the arts. Women were getting the recognition and financial support from the public art sector. Some of the art made by women, examined sexual taboos and the place of women in society. How fortunate have I been to be born a woman in this period of human history, as well as be an artist?

Sometime last year William showed me the artworks of
Orly Cogan in the Art section of New York Times website. From the recent art I have seen on her website, her approach to embroidery is refreshing, whimsical and pensive. Her use of narrative speaks volumes, as her protagonists are women of different stereotype eras.

Orly’s year has begun with a bang. Her yearly calendar is full of expositions; published articles in books and magazines, talks and it all started this month.

Presently in New York, you can see her in a group
show called im Material which runs until Feb 14. at Black & White Gallery, in Chelsea. Here are several photos of Quantum Entanglement the installation she created.

I have always been partial to installations. The complexity and parts involved to create them, tend to drive the my personal experience to a greater height. Once in the gallery space, I have the opportunity to reflect and question my own experience inside. I see a great catharsis from these images of her work. The energy and intention of respecting the medium of thread and fiber is brilliantly expressed by her. I am getting excited looking at the close ups. Too bad that I am not there to see it in person. It definitely would have been a treat.

Also also in New York this month she is exhibiting in a group
show called Narrative Thread at The Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery. Recently on display at the Wignall Museum in California, is a large densely embroiderer artwork that Orly created
for the group show Raised in Craftivity.

New on the shelves published by Black Dog, is Contemporary Textiles - the fabric of fine art by editor Nadine Monem. Besides the several pages of Orly's work, she told me it's a book worth owning. There are many great fiber artists featured, a good addition to ones creative library. Here's the link to order a copy from the Amazon website.
Orly's artwork is on the cover of January Artpress magazine. The article inside discusses contemporary embroidery.

Just the other day she was mentioned in the NewYork Press an article Taking a Craft. If you double chick on the image, then go to the bottom right corner and hit on the box, you can see the artwork larger. How wonderfully romantic a composition it is. As for the article I found it to have some interesting thoughts. I am not sure if the writer is aware of the arts and crafts revival that has been going on for the past 15 years though. In this month's issue American Art Collector, Orly's work is highlighted with a visual in an article titled Art at the Crossroads.

One of my favourite sayings
“A stitch in time saves nine” was included in The Textile Society of America's conference title. At The Contemporary Craft Museum, Annin Barett created a slide presentation A Stitch in Time: New Embroidery, Old Fabric and Changing Values
. The discussion considers historic and current social values as evidenced by the embroidered art of Orly Cogan, Ghada Amer and Louise Bourgeois. So nice to see all this celebration of the stitch happening in North America.

It has been a great pleasure to share this acclaimed artist in my writing. Orly's artwork shows so much more then the power of the narrative stitch. The juxtaposition of her imagery brings both satire as well as a cheeky sense of humor. To embroider on delicate lady’s hankies requires great attention and skill. What a challenge using a canvas such as that. I find Orly’s imagery spiritually uplifting and empowering. She is exciting the world by her art today and embodies my fervor of Needle Power to the fullest.

I look forward to seeing her artwork this February at the Museum of Textiles
She Will Always Be Younger Than Us. This group show of four women artist begins February 11th and runs through to September. I encourage you to see it if you are in Toronto this year.


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