‘String Theory’ is worth figuring outThe Arts Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Call me gay, but I have always liked the idea of sewing. I made a short film once. It was a mini coming of age story called Buttons and Thread that relied on a kid’s fascination with a sewing basket and all its shiny contents.
Last year I was caught up in quilting, amazed at how complex pieces of tapestry could emerge from scraps of fabric. I am a big fan of Project Runway and I am so glad Patricia will be participating in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week because I personally loved her horse hair cape!
Recently I even tried learning how to knit. My patience ran out though as soon as the hamster sized blanket I was creating starting seizing up on my beginners needles. The whole knotty mess is in a bag somewhere in the closet.
Never mind that. What I am eager to tell you about is a wonderful-looking exhibition that just opened at Scott White Contemporary Art in La Jolla. It is called String Theory and it is a dynamic all-female group exhibition showcasing exquisite fiber works by Devorah Sperber, Kumi Yamashita and Cayce Zavaglia. The intricate exhibition explores contemporary photorealistic works created using textiles traditionally associated with craft and it’s worth checking out.
The three artists are all working around the same idea, but their work could not be more different. Sperber juxtaposes an organized stack of colored spools of thread (hundreds of them!) with a clear acrylic viewing sphere through which an image appears. That image is a camera-obscura phenomenon whereby the upside-down image created by the organized colored spools are made right and small and easily read in the glass. I am not quite sure what this is supposed to say, but it is an interesting sculpture to engage and works well with the rest of the work.
If I did not have the patience to make a hamster blanket then I would surely not survive in Kumi Yamashita or Cayce Zavaglia’s worlds.
Yamashita creates photo realistic portraits with a matrix of thread wrapped around galvanized steel nails on a wooden board. From afar the faces look etch-a-sketch perfect but close up each piece is simply a zigzag of string, not unlike the kind of things children make at school. Meanwhile, Zavaglia’s portraits are hand-embroidered portraits that are uncannily life-like, in a Lucien Freud kind of way.
On one side of the Belgian linen is a very realistic face, while on the other there is a more abstracted version of the same face, an inner vision if you like, behind-the-scenes evidence of the extraordinarily hard work done to create the front.
If this all sounds super complicated, like quantum physics or string theory then you’ll have to go see for yourself. You have until June 1 to figure it out.
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