Art Review: 'Stitches' at Armory Center for the Arts
Although craft practices have been infiltrating “high” art for decades, this engaging exhibition at the Armory Center for the Arts reveals these techniques to be versatile artistic media in their own right.
Organized under a deceptively simple premise, the show features works by 12 artists who use various applications of stitching, knitting or weaving. In the context of contemporary art, these methods have become a shorthand for associations with domesticity, femininity, saccharine nostalgia or kitsch. Works in the show play off all of these meanings, often mixing them with less expected references.
Dinh Q. Le weaves together slivers of different war photographs to create images that flicker between aggression and pathos. Maria E. Piñeres’ large inkjet prints of a NASCAR crash rendered in needlepoint do the same for gender expectations, depicting a “masculine” sport in a “feminine” medium and enlarging it to the scale of heroic (also “masculine”) painting. And Lauren DiCioccio’s embroidered replicas of plastic bags and water bottles turn mass-produced disposables into delicate handmade objects that make you think twice about throwing them away.
In Titus Kaphar’s slashed, folded and stitched portraits, sewing is not so much a sign of domestic labor as it is a rather violent means of literally deconstructing and reconstructing art history. Nuttaphol Ma’s site-specific installation is a kind of sanctuary in which the artist has strung a low, loom-like ceiling (one must duck to enter) that rises toward the back of a small room to reveal a similarly “woven” upright piano and a record player playing Tchaikovsky. The ceiling’s perfectly spaced strands of yarn echo the strings of a piano, the grooves of an LP and the lines of musical notation, creating a beautiful resonance: music as weaving and weaving as music.
Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 792-5101, through June 6. Closed Mondays. www.armoryarts.org
Images: Lauren DiCioccio’s embroidered replicas (top) and Nuttaphol Ma’ installation. Photo credit: Scarlet Cheng.