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Fabric

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Key takeaways

1. The group exhibition features 11 artists exploring the complex associations of textiles, including personal narratives, global themes, self-expression, and societal perspectives

2. Through their distinct approaches, presented artists embrace and elevate textiles as a legitimate form of fine art, unveiling its inherent significance

Peter Blum Gallery presents Fabric, a group exhibition featuring Alighiero e Boetti, Louise Bourgeois, Sonya Clark, Josh Faught, Rochelle Feinstein, Nicholas Galanin, Esther Kläs, Kimsooja, Turiya Magadlela, Jordan Nassar, and Shinique Smith. Fabric brings together 11 artists that make use of textiles in their practice, exploring the complex associations that the medium holds, encompassing public and private, local and global, how we decorate our own bodies, and how we assess the adorned bodies of others. Each of these artists uniquely explores the friction inherent in the status of textiles in fine art, elevating and further validating the medium.

Alighiero e Boetti (1940‐1994, Turin, Italy) was a pioneer in utilizing textiles as a medium for artistic expression. Boetti's practice involved engaging local artisans from Afghanistan and Pakistan to create intricate, handembroidered tapestries that portrayed text in grids. Each piece showcased a blend of craftsmanship, cultural exchange, and Boetti's philosophical beliefs, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our world. His use of textiles not only demonstrated his penchant for exploring unconventional materials, but also allowed him to blur the lines between art and craft, fostering a dialogue about the value and meaning of creative labor.

Louise Bourgeois (1911‐2010, Paris, France) is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, with her work often delving into introspective realities, childhood traumas, and female sexuality. Her diverse oeuvre encompasses various genres, media, and materials, all deeply intertwined with her life experiences and emotions, using motifs like body parts, houses, and spiders to symbolize complex human experiences. Although Bourgeois explored painting, drawing, printmaking, and performance, she also made artwork from her personal archive of fabric that included damage scraps from her parents’ tapestry repair business and cherished childhood clothing, among other things. Her panels and sculptures are riddled with suture‐like stitches that unite their tattered bits.

Sonya Clark (b. 1967, Washington, D.C.) uses innovative textile techniques and unconventional materials, such as human hair, to explore culture, history, and identity. Rooted in her African diasporic heritage, her artistic practice employs weaving, embroidery, and beadwork to create powerful visual narratives addressing social issues like race, gender, and power dynamics. Her unique visual language elevates marginalized voices and
contributes to a more inclusive understanding of human experience.

Josh Faught (b. 1979, St. Louis, MO) skillfully investigates themes of identity and community in his work, often celebrating queer lifestyles and histories. His vibrant sculptures are adorned with ephemera displaying activist slogans, personal confessions, and jokes, providing a glimpse into the diverse experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. Faught views his use of textile armatures as metaphors for community. By celebrating gay culture and employing human proportions in his work, Faught invites viewers to relate to his art on a personal and social level, fostering a sense of connection and understanding.

Rochelle Feinstein (b. 1947, New York, NY) is known for her thought‐provoking paintings that often incorporate various materials and techniques, such as collage, text, and photography. Her work frequently addresses social, political, and cultural issues, blending abstraction with elements of pop and conceptual art to create visually striking pieces. Feinstein's oeuvre engages viewers in critical dialogues surrounding contemporary society and the role of art within it.

Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, Sitka, AK) works from his experience as a Lingít and Unangax̂ artist to examine the complexities of contemporary Indigenous identity, culture, and representation. Embedding incisive observation and reflection into his oftentimes provocative work, he aims to redress the widespread misappropriation of Indigenous visual culture, the impact of colonialism, as well as collective amnesia. Galanin reclaims narrative and creative agency, while demonstrating contemporary Indigenous art as a continually evolving practice.

Esther Kläs (b. 1981, Mainz, Germany) creates process‐oriented sculptures and works on paper that challenge contemporary sculptural norms, drawing on Postminimalism and using materials such as clay, oil stick, and resin to maintain a close physical connection to her work. Her distinctive visual language reflects her body's relationship with the surrounding environment and her inner experience. Kläs's sculptures and works on paper emphasize her intuitive gestures and explore the essence of objects and her presence within a space, suggesting connections between being and seeing.

Kimsooja (b. 1957, Daegu, South Korea) grounds her work in Korean cultural traditions, using materials and activities historically linked to women's domestic labor to examine the contemporary human experience across cultures. Her use of textiles is deeply personal, stemming from childhood memories of sewing bedcovers with her mother. Her art transcends feminist perspectives, instead focusing on broader existential questions about the interconnectedness of humanity. Sewing, for Kimsooja, serves as a meditative activity, a formal artistic tool, a domestic labor, and a socially connective act.

Turiya Magadlela (b. 1978, Johannesburg, South Africa) creates abstract textile art and installations that employ emotionally significant fabrics, such as pantyhose or old sheets from correctional institutions. Her art embraces her cultural history, growing up under Apartheid, and speaks to themes of judgment, separation, discrimination, confinement, and humiliation. Her work aims to examine the pain of human existence, drawing inspiration from the Xhosa word 'imihuzuko', or collective pain. Magadlela masterfully incorporates both new and found fabrics, creating pieces with a flexible, organic appearance that reference traditional female handwork.

Jordan Nassar (b. 1985, New York, NY) explores heritage and homeland through various mediums, such as handembroidery, wood inlay, and glass, often using "the landscape" as a unifying theme. He adapts the Palestinian tatreez embroidery technique to reflect his hybrid upbringing and collaborates with Ramallah and Hebron‐based craftswomen to create contemporary works that juxtapose local traditions and modern aesthetics. Nassar's imagined landscapes evoke a connection to Palestine and the Palestinian‐American diaspora, expressing both joy and diasporic longing in relation to his cultural identity.

Shinique Smith (b. 1971, Baltimore, MD)'s artistic practice revolves around using clothing as a raw material, which serves to reference the human figure and the broader social and economic systems within which individuals operate. Her works often vary in scale, from portraying a specific person to representing a vast crowd through the amassing and binding of hundreds of garments. Smith's most notable creations feature clothing tightly compressed and arranged into striking color blocks and gradients, evoking the way used garments are packed and shipped for reuse in less affluent nations. While her work is frequently discussed in relation to feminist labor discourse, Smith eschews traditional textile techniques like sewing, crocheting, or knitting, opting instead to reinterpret handcraft through an art‐historical lens.