Friday, May 23, 2008
  Redefining the Line in the Washington Post
On Friday, May 23, 2008, The Thread as the Line was featured in the Arts Section of the Washington Post. In the article, “The Fabric of Freedom, Redefined,” art critic Jessica Dawson asks, “Why draw a line when you can sew one?” The myriad of artists exhibiting in the show answer her question each with a different approach. From Jennifer Boe’s embroidered commentary on feminine domestic roles to Sabrina Gschwandtner’s video documenting “art as social interaction”, The Thread as the Line, “reveals how fabric – once a signature feminist material…entered an art world whose definition grows broader by the day.”

Thursday, May 15, 2008
In conjunction with THE THREAD AS THE LINE exhibit:

A night of amplified knitting with Baltimore-based artist and Sondheim Prize winner, Laure Drogoul!

Laure Drogoul sets up for an evening of "productive" music. Ellipse gallery visitors, hard-core knitters and new-comers alike, had an amazing time contributing to Drougoul's newest project.

Thank you to everyone who came!

Educational Programmer, Lisa Marie Thalhammer (left) and Laure Drogoul (right) are knitting while Thread as the Line artist Sabrina Gschwandtner (center) films in Super8 film (!!!)

Supplies for ORCHESTRAL KNITTING include a soundboard, yarn and knitting needles.

A knitting orchestra in progress. Drogoul organizes the participants in a traditional knitting circle, providing them with needles equipped with tiny microphones. Working from the same pattern or “score”, the knitters create recordings of scarves or mittens as manifestations of each performance

Read more about the story behind Drogoul's crafty music in the City Paper online!

Knitters hanging out by Sabrina Gschwandtner's installation, KnitKnit Sundown Salon. The video highlights her limited edition magazine and newly published book, "KnitKnit: Profiles and Projects form Knitting's New Wave".

Click here to read more about Amplified Knitting in the Craft e-zine!
View a YouTube video of her first musical knitting recording at the fabulous Baltimore store, Atomic Pop!

Thursday May 15, 2008

Laure Drogoul’s “Apparatus for Orchestral Knitting” was featured in the

Style on the Go section of the Washington Post!

In the article, “Weaving a Tapestry of Sound”, journalist Lavanya Ramanathan highlights the musical event as part of the Ellipse Arts Center’s The Thread as the Line show. Visit our Projection Annex, located next door to the gallery, to watch a video of previous performances!

Read more about the Ellipse Knitting Jam at the
Washington Post website! The Thread as the Line runs through July 12, 2008.
  SEW WHAT? Ellipse Makes the Cover of Bust!

Hurry to get your copy of the June/July issue of Bust Magazine! The Ellipse Arts Center made the front cover for The Thread as the Line. In the article “A Stitch in Time”, journalist Susan Beal unravels the life stories and influences of a few of our featured artists:

Caroline Hwang, Jennifer Boe, Megan Whitmarsh and Anila Rubiku.

“A Stitch in Time” is rich with color photographs and is a sure read for anyone who wants to know more about the Contemporary Sewn Art Movement which has taken the nation by storm!

Friday, May 02, 2008
  THREAD AS THE LINE : Contemporary Sewn Art - Opening Reception and Artist Talk
Exhibiting the work of sixteen local, national and international artists, “The Thread as the Line” exposes the expanding interest in using traditional sewing and embroidery in contemporary fine art.

Curated by Cynthia Connolly

THE STORY: In 1999, Cynthia Connolly visited New York City to hock her postcards at various stores. One store stood out in particular, Patch 155. The handmade clothing shop was a beehive of activity for people wanting to sew and create. It featured the work of up-and-coming artists and designers. It was here that Cynthia was inspired to sew her photographs which lead her artwork in a new direction. She quickly became friends with Patch 155's owner, Cal Patch, and till this day, she visits every time she goes to New York. After returning home, Cynthia continued to notice how the medium of sewing in fine art continually grew. This exhibition is a document to this movement.

Jennifer Boe
Above: Jennifer Boe (b. 1978 Niles, Michigan) earned a BFA in painting and Creative Writing from the Kansas City Art Institute. She currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri. After graduating, she “fell out of love from painting”. She felt it too fast for her and moved into embroidery. Yet in spite of having wholly abandoned brushes and canvas, she still refers to herself as a painter. Her new work is heavily influenced by her mother’s craft projects and her grandmother’s gifts of embroidered linens. Boe believes, “there is a distinction between and a hierarchical ordering of fine art over craft, which solidified about the time of the renaissance; ‘Art’ being strong, masculine and educated; ‘craft’ being weak, feminine, domestic and amateur.”

In The Thread as the Line, red velvet draperies swing open to reveal Boe's dramatic triptych, Immaculate Mary Full of Grace. The embroidered vacuum cleaner is adorned with cherubs, roses and a star-spangled halo. Upholstery attachments hang on either side as companions to the life-sized piece. "In spite of feminism," Boe comments, "the rugs still need to be vacuumed, the dishes washed and the groceries bought…cleanliness is akin to godliness." Speaking of groceries, her other two works: Devilied Fun for Everyone and She's No Angel, bring out the humor in everyday purchases that we often overlook.

Natalie Chanin

Above: Thread Stories, a repaired and preserved a quilt, hangs beside her book Alabama Stich. The repaired and preserved vintage quilt illustrates the bond between our past, our present and future. This work serves as canvas for oral histories – collected from local textile workers over the last eight years.

Born in Florence, Alabama, Natalie Chanin re-established her studio in Alabama after 22 years of living and working abroad as a costume designer. She earned a degree in Environmental Design from North Carolina State University and currently has her hands full working as a designer, manufacturer, consultant, stylist, filmmaker, mother, artisan, cook and collector of stories. Chanin's past clothing line, Project Alabama, was sold in national and international retail stores. She recently founded Alabama Chanin, where artisans from local Alabama communities contribute their talents constructing clothing, home furnishings and accessory designs by combining new, organic and recycled materials.

Steve Frost

Above: Detail of Steve Frost's "Never Too Old for Single Stall Bathrooms", and his comfortable installation titled, "My Family Has Slept On This Couch". The work features twelve cushy "Ex-Boyfriend Pillows". Here, Frost lounges on his installation with textile artist, Kristina Bilonick.

Steve Frost (b. Woodsville, NH) lives and works in Washington, D.C. In 2004, he completed his BFA at Alfred University's New York State College of Ceramics. His intricate work from his Merit Badge Series became part of a free speech controversy in Krakow, Poland. Frost and other members of the feminist collective, The Evolutionary Girl's Club, launched an exhibition as part of Poland's Festival of Tolerance. The festival and exhibition drew crowds of protesters and resulted in the destruction of many of Frost's works, which confront themes of gender, heritage and the history of materials. In The Thread as the Line, Frost exhibits wall mounted fabric panels and a reupholstered couch which tell “tales of heartache” constructed from the “socks, underwear and t-shirts from men he may or may not have had break his heart.”

Anila Rubiku

Above: Anila Rubiku speaks about her Mastering Freedom series. Born in Albania, Rubiku left her home country in 1994 to study at the Brera Academy in Milan. This new beginning inspired her to reexamine many aspects of her life, including her identity as an Albanian female artist, her core values and roots.

In 2004, Rubiku began using thread as a way to reconnect with her homeland. She writes, "Embroidery is a simple and humble medium practically forgotten in Albania, but which has for generations been a part of my roots and family history, which is made up of women and feminine sensibility in a society where men call all the shots."

Thread as the Line exhibits her recent work, Mastering Freedom, which depicts women in designer dresses boldly standing on unbridled horses. As if to comment on a woman's place in a male dominated world, these women seek to tame the "male power" in the stereotypical feminine way. Her intricate embroideries represent freedom, perserverance and aspiration - things Rubiku has experienced as a foreigner in Italy and a foreigner to her homeland.

Anila Rubiku’s work appears courtesy of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC.

Graham Childs

Above: detail of Graham Childs' Stadium 1, along with the artist explaining its historical significance. Born in Manhattan, Kansas, Childs lives and works in Washington, DC. He recently graduated with a MFA from American University. His work deals with the societal expectations of gender distinction. Childs confronts, accepts and takes ownership of stereotypical gender roles by combining the elegant craft of embroidery and the grace of the artifact. “My work is a celebration; it becomes icons of innocence and strength struggling against time to stay frozen in memory and is about rejoicing the truths that we all share as human beings.” In The Thread as a Line, Graham exhibits “cardhouses” made from original 1989 Giant’s baseball cards. 1989 is the year that a major earthquake struck in the middle of the World Series game at the Giant’s home, Candlestick Park.

Brece Honeycutt

Above: Brece Honeycutt explains the meaning of her larger-than-life skeins of original homespun. Born in Hickory, North Carolina, Honeycutt makes history-based drawings, sculptures and installations. She received an undergraduate degree in Art History from Skidmore College and a MFA in sculpture from Columbia University.

Her works are often collaborative installations placed in public spaces such as university campuses, historical houses, non-profit spaces and inner-city parks. Currently, Brece is spinning yarn in Arlington, Virginia and recording the memories of fiber, thread and spinning told to her by passers-by. For The Thread as the Line her tactile installation includes these digitally recorded interviews, as well as a hypnotic video of the spinning process.

Jennifer Muskopf

Above:Jennifer Muskopf speaks about her installation of mysterious deep sea fishes. Lophius Piscatorius or Monkfish and Bathysaurus Mollis or Lizardfish float in the darkened room.

Born in Millstadt, Illinois, Muskopf has lived in Washington, DC; Barbados, West Indies; Brooklyn, New York and Carrboro, North Carolina with her anthropologist husband. She has exhibited internationally and studied at Kansas City Art Institute. Muskopf creates “soft sculptures” of handmade stuffed animals interacting within their environment. She describes her works as, "quiet, detailed scenes depicting the strangeness of ordinary objects around us. Plants stand sentinel. Clouds communicate with their grounded shadows. Animals escape our boundaries."

In The Thread is the Line, Muskopf has installed her soft sculptures of life-sized deep sea fish in a closed off, dimly lit space in the gallery in order to emulate and transport the viewer to the deep sea where these monsters lurk. When discussing her fascination with the sea, she explains, "I want to represent the creatures that really exist there. I am making life-sized stuffed animal versions of these monsters in an attempt to know them. To have them share our space. To know how big they are next to me. To imagine what it is like in their space. To look closely at what is in our world but still beyond our understanding.”

Sabrina Gschwandtner

Above: Frank Higgins watches Sabrina Gschwandtner's "KnitKnit Sundown Salon" video installation. Her book, "KnitKnit: Profiles and Projects from Knitting's New Wave" brings together a community of 27 knitters under an expanded definition of what art is. Her work in The Thread as the Line explores themes of tactility and community while engaging the spaces between craft and art, hobbyist and professional, artist and curator.

Gschwandtner is a New York City based artist who works with film, video, photography, performance, sewing, crochet and knitting. She has a BA in Art/Semiotics from Brown University, an MFA from Bard College and has exhibited internationally. In 2002 she founded Knitknit, a limited edition arts journal dedicated to the intersection of fine art and handcraft. Since then, she has curated numerous shows and events around performative and political textiles, effectively creating a community of artists, artisans and crafters whose work defies categories of fine art or craft.

Valerie Molnar

Above: Valerie Molnar talks about her site specific installation, They're Kissing Again. Ohio native,
Valerie Molnar lives in Richmond, Virginia and will complete her MFA in painting at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in May 2008. Deviating from using paint as a medium, Molnar’s main focus has become knitting. Using the wall as her canvas, she still paints “overlaps” of color on her tacked-up knitted compositions. "The way these two constructs work together as a team is that the brightly colored images and forward scale grab the attention and the familiar and non-threatening nature of the material (yarn and knitting) pulls people in closer, whoever they might be… Ideally the two, paint and knitting, should flux between being inseparable and separate. ”

Thomas Campbell

Above:Thomas Campbell's collection of sewn paintings, rich in color and filled with details that will make anyone take a second glance. Campbell currently lives in Santa Cruz, California, but he travels all over the world creating work in the places that he prefers to be, usually near an ocean where he can surf. He spends his days creating 16mm films, making paintings and acting as creative director of his small independent record label; releasing music by contemporary artists including Tommy Guerrero, Ray Barbee, Peggy Honeywell and Black Heart Procession.

Curator Cynthia Connolly knew of Campbell’s work from her days hanging at Cal Patch’s New York City store front. She watched it develop over the years, becoming more complex. He combines broad, fast strokes with layers of small details including “combined scribbles and scriptures, taking slogans and anecdotes from a unique vocabulary and juxtaposing them with a profound look at human nature.” In 2004, Cynthia found out that Campbell was using sewing as a medium and The Thread as the Line features his newest sewn paintings.

Photograph of Large Sewn Flower by Jeffrey Scott Goldberg.

Natalia Blanch

Above: Natalia Blanch's Feu Rouge installation over her steel filing cabinet installation of Minimum Drawings. Born in Argentina, Blanch earned her BFA from the National University of Córdoba in 1996 and an MFA from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000. She now lives in Grenoble, France.

Blanch exhibits internationally and has recently been featured in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. In The Thread as the Line, her vintage steel filing cabinet contains a collection of 4"x6" cards. Using various papers, paint, thread and photographs, she created her Minimum Drawings. "The first drawings (first three months of work) are notes about the Iraq war. The following ones are representations of everyday events that impress me and that belong both to my own personal reality and to the world’s." The viewer is welcome to go through the filing card box and examine them.

Megan Whitmarsh

Above: detail of Megan Whitmarsh's Art Museum. Originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Whitmarsh has a MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. She has recently exhibited in the United States, Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Canada, Korea, Germany and Switzerland. She lives in Los Angeles, a place where nature and the constructs of man collide with rawness as buildings, trash and pavement confront the sandy dry Southern Californian soil.

In her sewn canvases, Whitmarsh transforms, “the multiplicity of ordinary life into magical yet accessible moments. My work displays scenes of fantasy characters existing amongst the detritus of the modern world.’’ Her brightly colored embroideries tell stories through the cast of tiny schoolchildren and yetis. The spare backgrounds are dotted with iconic landscape features such as volcanoes, caves, crystals and forests.

Work appears courtesy of New Image Art, Los Angeles, California.

Zac Monday

Above: A candid photograph of Zac Monday assembling Beast 'Blue' on installation day. Zac Monday is a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) sculpture program graduate, currently enrolled in the University of California at San Diego’s MFA program. The year before he entered VCU, his mother taught him to crochet. From then on, began designing face coverings that ultimately became “masks that covered the entire body”. When his actors wear his costumes, they invade the viewers’ physical space. Monday states, “I get really bored entering an art show with all of the art caged to the wall or on the floor - making it totally inaccessible to our physical presence. I want to challenge the viewers experience with the art, making it somehow not as safe.” His companion to Beast 'Blue', a full body crochet costumes exhibited in its "vacant” state is featured in The Thread as the Line show.

Rachel Bernstein

Above: Shleves of Rachel Bernstein's fluffy dissections and a detail image of 3 Small Intestines. Born in La Jolla, California, Bernstein grew up surrounded by medicine and visual art. Her time spent volunteering in a children’s ward of a local hospital greatly influenced her artistic career. After receiving a BA in Philosophy from NYU, she studied figure, animation and sculpture at Washington University in St. Louis Missouri.

Bernstein's sculptural work envelopes the skill of creating life-like renditions of human anatomy parts that explore the borderline between the beautiful and the grotesque. “Inner organs are often presented as a subject of horror or perhaps clinical interest but organs are as beautiful as the contours of our exteriors.” Using organic materials and needlepoint, she depicts components of the digestive, circulatory and muscular systems. She explains that these materials, “have been denigrated as craft media, rather than media of fine art. I reclaim these marginalized mediums by using them to depict things that have traditionally been displayed in medical academies rather than ladies' dressing rooms.”

Matt Nelson

Above: Arlington's own Matt Nelson and detail of Marshmallow Peep Real Peep. Nelson grew up in Arlington and entered art school at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 1990. While studying painting and printmaking at VCU, Matt worked with fabric simultaneously. He started working on his first two-dimensional sewn piece in 1998. A love of American folk art and quilts led him to experiment “painting” with fabric, thus crafting his first 10" x10" square. Two years later, Nelson completed a quilt of 30 squares featuring images pulled from the worlds of music, pop culture and his own life.

Caroline Hwang

Above: Caroline Hwang talks about Dangerous Cargo, images of female figures which explore the danger and miscommunication that happens within personal relationships. Hwang lives and works in Brooklyn New York. Her inspiration steams from hours spent with her grandmother watching and learning about embroidered and quilted works. This homegrown familiarity with her embroidery process contributes to the sense of comfort in her art. In The Thread as the Line Caroline appropriates the shapes of international nautical code/signaling flags. These flags, in their original state, use bright primary colors to communicate between sea ships and the shore. Her works mimic the shapes of these flags, but the colors are subdued to illustrate that communication is not always clear between humans.

Thank you Clarendon Strings for performing opening night!

Ellipse Arts Center is a 3,000 square foot visual arts facility managed by Arlington Cultural Affairs, Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resourses. Our mission is to provide a diverse schedule of high quality programs in the visual arts, providing opportunities for visual artists, as well as developing an engaged and appreciative audience.

Location: Arlington, VA
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