I attended the opening of FABRICation at the WVU Art Museum in Morgantown, WV and was curious how the variety of display challenges were surmounted by the artists, curators and facility. Not a single item is hung by traditional wires. Velcro, screws in the wall to mount a panel flush, grommets and 20 penny nails, wood blocks hiding screws, templates and detailed dimensions all were included by the artists in their packages along with the artwork.
Since 2014 FABRICation co-curators Reni Gower and Kristy Deetz have incorporated seven fiber artists’ organic creations into a successful traveling collection exhibited in thirteen public spaces. Through March 19 the WVU Art Museum in Morgantown, WV is hosting the works with informative lectures. On Feb 22 there is a lunchtime talk by preparator Michael Loop who will reveal tips of his job in bridging the studio art making and presenting the art in a public exhibition.
As makers of art, how our work is displayed often requires technical skills outside of those we used to create it. These artists considered presentation techniques to emphasize their message. The graceful drape of Susan Iverson’s woven panels encourage the public to look at the grouping, follow the designs rhythmically up and along to the next, enjoying the natural themes in the panels. Susan included a template to mount the velcro strips, numbered the panels and gave specific measurements for height.
Reni Gower’s three panels incorporate a multitude of strips spaced in layers to adding shadowed shapes on the patterns she has created. Her directions began with the height on the wall from floor to install a row of specifically spaced screws that allowed the three wooden rods with pre-drilled holes to be set onto. An easy job for the preparator because of the directions. For the viewer we are drawn close to examine the details and back out appreciating the cacophony of color and shapes.
Natalie Smith created boldly painted blocks as elements in her design and to hide the hanging nails. The minimalism of her work misleads us to think it is simplistic. She incorporates modern materials – plastic and permanent marker, with traditional draping cotton in a manner to suggest a fun, playful perhaps 1960’s era (an innocence).
The venue dictates how the twenty one pieces are displayed. The curators are pleasantly surprised visiting a new space seeing how the works are relating with each other. Rachel Hayes piece Sympathy Falls is 192″ x 102″ with grommets installed for hanging vertically or horizontally. WVU Art Museum had installed in the ceiling a method to suspend the work in the middle of the gallery. This allowed people to view crowds through the sheer weave, adding new changing shapes to the patchwork. The placement foreshortened the long gallery with another “wall”.
The digital prospectus prepared to solicit spaces includes sizes, descriptive labels, artist statements and outreach programming and costs. A variety of funding sources have assisted the facilities in funding the show. Ms. Gower listed FABRICations on Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) website http://www.aamg-us.org/wp/ . An extensive catalog is available to order in print or as a digital version at FABRICation by Reni Gower. It includes artist statements, contacts, an art review and curators description and full color of each work.
The exhibit is scheduled through 2017. If people can visit in person the scale and close inspection of technique, materials and composition will be worth the trip at:
Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD; April 15 – Jul 9, 2017
Bowling Green State University, Fine Arts Center Gallery, Bowling Green, OH; Sep 1 – Oct 1, 2017
Textiles can often be folded or rolled up and usually ship without a FRAGILE label. These are positive selling points when a curator submits a proposal looking for exhibition space. I encourage artists to create with their hearts, resolve presentation obstacles and submit their work to curators, juried opportunities or create relationships with venues and educate the public about traditional methods made by contemporary hands.