Opening Reception - Friday, November 8, 7-9pm
Meet the artists and witness the unveiling of the U St. Façade Yarn-Bomb Garden
Opening November 8, the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery is pleased to present Against the Bias, featuring artists working against the grain and masterfully transforming commonplace materials and methods—sewing, crocheting, knitting, embroidering, and quilting—into contemporary reflections on community, historical legacy, identity, and even the sacred. The 8 featured artists dramatically modernizing these once “domestic” materials include Emily Biondo, Hannah Brancato, Stacy Cantrell & a team of yarn-bombers, Lily deSaussure, Jo Hamilton, Jesse Harrod, Jimmy Miracle, and Amber Robles-Gordon.
Yarn, thread and fabric were historically associated with “women’s work” and hence works made from such materials were often relegated to the category of mere craft, yet with the 1960’s feminist movement, these once humble materials began to enter the realm of contemporary art worldwide. With each knot, stitch, and loop the selected artists disrupt our collective expectation of what these traditional materials can do; images of homemade holiday sweaters and Gran’s baby blanket are daringly replaced with avant-garde works that speak to the present moment.
Despite their shared starting point – a skein of yarn, spool of thread, or yard of fabric – the featured artists take divergent paths creating works that are as varied as their points of view. Amber Robles-Gordon and Jesse Harrod are both drawn to found fabric and embellishments, yet they each sculpt their materials into unique forms that speak to the complex entanglement of identity, gender, culture, and history. Not limited by a frame, Harrod & Robles-Gordon’s works grow and expand with each layer of ribbon, sequins, cut fabric, and wire. Robles-Gordon equates this sculptural layering with her own sense of self or her “hybridism: a fusion of my gender, ethnicity, cultural and social experiences,” while Harrod connects the same layering approach with the historical implications contained within the fabric itself – “evidence of deeply entrenched?colonial, gendered, and class-based oppression.”
In quiet contrast to Robles-Gordon & Harrod’s bold statements, Jimmy Miracle & Lily deSaussure offer their delicate thread musings, which appear to us as private meditations on memory and perhaps even the sacred. Lily deSaussure emphasizes the intimate tactility of hand-embroidery by luring us in to closely examine and study her minimal and intricate works. We can almost feel the book in our hands, yet the white-on-white palette and fleeting gestural quality of the sewn images give the work a ghostly presence. Similarly, by weaving a translucent web of thread into a found wood form Miracle magically elevates the commonplace into an ethereal object, evoking the sacred.
Reviving the materials and techniques of their creative ancestors the remaining four artists - Jo Hamilton, Emily Biondo, Hannah Brancato and Stacy Cantrell – create works to tell and preserve personal and communal stories. Both Jo Hamilton and Emily Biondo learned to crochet from their grandmothers, but they use the passed down technique to tell stories of their present experience. Hamilton tells the story contained within her subject’s faces – every wrinkle, shadow, and plane is painted in yarn. Meanwhile, Biondo creates a provocative foil by coupling vintage crochet doilies made from audio wire with sound bytes from modern female experts discussing their fields of expertise. In her choice of visual forms she recalls images of the domesticated woman, but acoustically she shatters that antiquated gender role by playing clips of accomplished female professionals.
Further extending past traditions, Cantrell and Brancato resurrect knitting circles and quilting bees in their artistic processes. Brancato is part fine artist, part community activist: instead of isolating in her studio she creates immersive experiences that engage her community and bring to light important social and political issues. Stacy Cantrell is a local leader in the yarn bombing movement - a temporary and proud feminist version of graffiti art that took off in the early 2000s to soften sterile, urban spaces. For this exhibition, Cantrell has been leading a passionate team of yarn-bombers to create a work that will grow and overtake the Gallery’s U street façade. Over the course of four weeks she collaborated with expert crocheters and knitters, as well as our local community members, to contribute knit or crochet elements in overwhelming the front façade with a yarn cacti and succulent garden, even wrapping pots and banisters with colorful yarn pieces. Cantrell will unveil this outrageous public art piece on November 8th, which will announce the exhibition from the street and invite visitors into the gallery, where they are sure to be further entangled in the unexpected transformations of yarn, thread, and fabric contained within. Click here to see what USA Today had to say about the Yarn-Bomb Garden!
Against the Bias will run from November 8 thru December 21, 2013, with the Opening Reception & U St. Yarn-Bomb Unveiling on Friday, November 8, 7 to 9pm. Please also join us for the Artists’ Talk on Saturday, December 7 at 3:30pm, which will be followed by a craft gift sale and a holiday crochet tutorial from our yarn-bomb curator, Stacy Cantrell.
Special thanks to our yarn-bomb “Dream-Team:” Alice Abrash, Niya Coslty, Katherine French, Charles Holder, Deirdre Holdery, Amy Kachel, Margaret Meyer, Anne Leamon, Jennifer Lindsay, Jackie Ogg, Carola Van Cleef, Linda Mierke & Rebecca Stone Gordon.
Special Thanks to our yarn sponsor, Red Heart, and our local yarn donors:
Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Friday, 11am-5pm, Saturday, 11am-3pm, and by appointment.
Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery is located at 1632 U Street, in Northwest DC
Learn more about the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Special thanks to our sponsors:
All of our specially featured Jackson Family Wines are available for purchase at Calvert Woodley!