The extent of my training in art begins with Art History 101 at the University of Wisconsin in 1990 and unfortunately ends there as well. So by no means am I am art aficionado, but I could not resist a side trip during my annual “Big Apple Shopping Spree" to the Museum of Arts and Design. Why? The museum’s current exhibit is titled Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting. Enough said.
Being an avid knitter, I imagine I had a different perspective than the average museum visitor as I progressed slowly through the artwork. Among the knitted pieces, there were items that appeared to be knit on needles as large as telephone poles and also those only a mouse could have knit. The variety of materials on display was equally amazing, everything from nylon to wire to silk.
As much as I hate to distract others from their shopping, I do recommend the exhibit and enjoyed my visit. The exhibition runs from January 25 - June 17, 2007. The museum's description and further information are below.
Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting
January 25 - June 17, 2007
A provocative and timely exhibition of work by international artists using fiber in unexpected and unorthodox ways, Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting illuminates a field of creative practice that is fresh, surprising, and engaging. Featuring 27 artists from seven countries, this exhibition will exhibit work that ranges from Althea Merback's microknit garments (1:144 scale) to large-scale, site-specific installations. Artists employ a variety of media, from traditional yarns and laces, to found objects and video, and explore contemporary currents in art practice of socially engaged, participatory work.
Radical reformers in the world of knitting and lace making have overthrown the status quo from the inside out. In the space of ten years, knitting has emerged from the “loving hands at home" hobbyist’s den into museums and galleries worldwide. Knitting clubs meet in cities from San Francisco to Stockholm, while interactive knitting “performances" have been held in as seemingly unlikely places as the London Underground. Artist Sabrina Gschwandtner turned the traditional knitting circle into an art event at the KnitKnit Sundown Salon, organizing installations and performances, and encouraging participation by all visitors. Lace has been transformed from a decorative accessory into architectural installations and massive sculptures by artists such as Janet Echelman, whose monumental knotted pieces are designed to shift in form according to the winds.
The artists in this exhibition are experimenting with forms and techniques in the most novel and surprising ways, exploring new relationships between structure, design, color, and pattern. Yoshiki Hishinuma uses industrial knitting machines to create 3-dimensional free-form sculptures, some of which are also wearable. Industrial designer Niels van Eijk has used lace techniques to create a lamp out of optical fibers.
Many use materials and techniques to examine pressing contemporary issues of globalization and the environment, in addition to exploring personal questions of identity and sexuality. Cat Mazza's Knitoscope is computer software that translates video images into "knitted" images to educate about sweatshop labor. Freddie Robins's Craft Kills installation is a self-portrait that plays with our notions of craft as a passive activity.