ALIGHIERO E. BOETTI
“The warp is what is given in life and the weft is what happens in life.”
– quoted in Indonesian Textiles by Mary Hunt Kahlenberg and Richard Tuttle
Rhona Hoffman Gallery has a long history of supporting fiber-based artists, from showing Richard Tuttle and pivotal fiber artist Claire Zeisler in the 1970s, to currently holding exhibitions by Susan Hefuna and Anne Wilson. Material Gestures continues this on-going interest with a diverse group of artists who embrace, subvert, and rework the ancient mediums of fiber and textiles within contemporary art practice.
A pioneer of fiber art in the 1960s and 70s, Sheila Hicks is represented in the exhibition with Dervish, a work made by weaving and twisting a special stainless steel fiber that the artist developed with Bridgestone Tire Corporation. Included alongside Hicks in the major traveling exhibition FIBER: Sculpture 1960-present, gallery artist Anne Wilson is represented with Mourning Cloth and Dispersions, works that ascend the materiality of fiber and relate to the body, loss, and memory. Interdisciplinary German-Egyptian artist Susan Hefuna creates textile works that layer felt, gauze, and text appliqué, evoking her broader investigation of the nature of veiled visibility. Feminist ideas and corporeality connect the work of Hefuna and Wilson with interdisciplinary artist Kiki Smith, whose paper and string piece in MATERIAL GESTURES thwarts the viewer’s expectation of textiles.
A long-time collector of textiles known for his poetic artworks that elevate humble materials, Richard Tuttle is represented with a piece from his 2004 exhibition Indonesian Textiles. Also engaged with global textiles, Italian artist Alighiero Boetti created some of his best-known works in cooperation with Afghan textile weavers. Two artists are shown at Rhona Hoffman Gallery for the first time: Chicago-based Karen Reimer presents a union of conceptual and craft with her Endless Set #1399, and Heather Mackenzie, a recent SAIC graduate who studied with Anne Wilson, offers a glimpse into the latest interrogations of textile history and fiber art.