Feminine strength invading a masculine space in “AbStranded”

Feminine strength invading a masculine space in "AbStanded"

Feminine strength invading a masculine space
Published: September 23, 2021
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Polly Apfelbaum’s two hand-dyed wool rugs titled “For the love of Morris Louis” mirror each other and Morris Louis’ painting “Alpha Delta.”

An artist tour and violin concert marked the opening of “AbStranded: Fiber and Abstraction in Contemporary Art” at the Everson Museum of Art on Sept. 18.

Featuring works from 10 contemporary artists, the vibrant and abstract pieces exist in stark contrast to the brutalist architecture of I. M. Pei’s Everson Museum. The exhibition is a commentary on crafts that have been considered domestic or feminine by the world of fine art. It elevates the medium to a space where it can expand historical narratives in art.

Garth Johnson, curator of ceramics, commented on artist Sheila Pepe’s use of space and how the medium influences her message.

“Museums are patriarchal spaces, she wanted to fill the male space with female and domestic expression,” he said.

Elizabeth Dunbar, director and CEO of Everson, returned to her curatorial roots when helping to install Pepe’s “Put Me Down Gently,” a work that lives in Everson’s permanent collection and takes a new form when shown in different spaces. Previously, it was installed in Rosamond Gifford Sculpture Court in 2018.

Walking up the spiral staircase to the second floor, many visitors are stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of Anne Lindberg’s “bloodlines.” Red and orange threads stretch 50 feet from wall to wall in a mass of color that shifts and flows as viewers walk under and around the mass of fibers. During the artist tour, Dunbar explained that the gallery’s walls needed to be reinforced to withstand the tension the threads created.

For Lindberg, her work is not just about the connection of two points, but what occurs between them. “I am interested in the relationship of beauty and tension, beauty and danger,” Lindberg said during the tour.

Anne Lindberg stands under

Anne Lindberg stands under "bloodlines" during concert.

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Performing Krimitza’s “Askios” in front of "Put me down Gently."

The entire exhibition encourages interaction with the art. Pisces are hung from the ceiling or jut out from the wall, all encouraging the observer to physically explore the pieces — bend down, walk around and get close to view the art from different angles.

Visitors were even able to walk on one of the pieces. Polly Apfelbaum’s two hand-dyed wool rugs titled “For the love of Morris Louis” mirror each other and Morris Louis’ painting “Alpha Delta.” Visitors are allowed to walk on these rugs in sock feet or with shoe coverings on.

Visitors Elise and Robert Greenberg and David Rosenfield traveled from Dallas, Texas to see the exhibition.

“You don’t often have the ability to step into the painting, and the rug allowed you to do that,” said Elise Greenberg. “I think it’s a great opportunity for people who come to a museum and normally just stand and look at things to be able to step into it. That made it my favorite piece.”

Accompanying the abstract pieces of work was a violin concert performed by composer, conductor and violinist David Fulmer. The Prisms and Antiphons – v. 1.1 – AbStranded concert featured commissioned songs from three emerging composers Bahar Royaee, Vasiliki Krimitza, and Alyssa Regent.

The concert broke the mold of typical formal performance, inviting guests to walk around the gallery and get close to the violin to hear the raw sounds coming from the 300-year-old instrument. Opening with Bach’s “Partita No. 2 in d minor” in the sculpture court, beautiful tones sang from the violin, encapturing the audience with the echo in the space.

David Fulmer performed Regent’s “Analogy of Nature,” inspired by the art in the gallery, and invited visitors to explore the gallery as he played if they were compelled to by the music. (Video by Grace McCormick)

Starting next to Lindberg’s “bloodlines,” Fulmer performed Royaee’s “Angles (perspectives) of a sand sitting on a brick, under the wind.” The progressive piece had the violin scratching and plucking on muted strings. With unusual music in the gallery, the guests freely moved around, mesmerized by the mass of red and orange. Some even laid on the floor under the vibrant current of threads.

“David was being an agent of exploration rather than merely creating a spectacle for all of the viewers. He was helping them to explore the works,” Johnson said.

Fulmer carefully paired each piece with the art in each gallery. Using the term “architectonic,” he takes into consideration how the music works, how it responds to the art, and what collaborative elements of structure are within each piece.

Krimitza’s “Askios” accompanied the works of Sarah Zapata, Sheila Pepe, and Paolo Arao with Fulmer being dwarfed under the massive size of Pepe’s “Put Me Down Gently.” The work of Julia Bland and Elana Herzog was accompanied by Regent’s “Analogy of Nature,” an unexpected piece played along with nature sounds from a speaker.

AbStranded will be on view until Jan. 2, and Fulmer will hold his Prisms and Antiphons – v. 1.1 – AbStranded performance on Oct. 21, and Nov. 18.