The Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) presents Material as Metaphor, a group exhibition of thirty-one large-scale, abstract works by eleven contemporary West Coast artists who experiment with the intersections of fiber art and sculpture. Using materials such as vinyl, industrial felt, wire, cotton canvas, and nylon stockings, each presented work reveals the artist’s intimacy and intentionality with their medium and process. The exhibition title is taken from a 1982 essay by Bauhaus artist and teacher Anni Albers, who said “What I am trying to get across is that material is a means of communication,” urging artists to learn the language of their chosen materials. The exhibition features site-specific installations by Lloyd Hamrol and Lisa Soto, as well as wall works and standalone sculptures by Joel Allen, Miyoshi Barosh, Phyllis Green, Mary Little, Christy Matson, Victoria May, Senga Nengudi, Kay Whitney, and May Wilson. Material as Metaphor is on view from May 28 through September 4, 2017.
Relying on processes that include cutting, stitching, draping, weaving, and knotting, each work’s materiality explores ideas such as connectivity, labor, human imperfection, or memory. “This exhibition celebrates the extended boundaries of the art world where classifications and aesthetics are stretched through an emphasis on materials, techniques, and processes that crisscross our definitions of craft and contemporary art, freeing makers to experiment with various materials and methods,” says CAFAM executive director Suzanne Isken.
Miyoshi Barosh relies on traditional craft techniques to create the large-scale wall work Rainbow of Tears. Made from discarded afghans found in thrift shops throughout Los Angeles, her materials symbolize unrequited love and devotion, selfless labor, and useless attempts to cheer others up despite the reality of a harsh world. Joel Allen’s Hooked on Svelte is a series of hanging sculptures utilizing fiber and metalwork that can be recombined to form site-specific installations. The work is about the repetitive, physical labor of the artist’s process.