Weaving the Threads of Applied and Contemporary Art

LONDON – Considering his turbulent early childhood, the South African artist’s Bonolo Kavula she misses the meditative mental calmness she gets from working with textiles.

Born in Kimberley, South Africa, he was raised in a foster family after the death of his mother (he was 4 at the time). He later enrolled in an art school where he was the only Black student. In middle school, he won national youth arts award and continued to study printing. Michaelis School of Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town.

Ms. Kavula, now 29 years old, is currently making her debut. Art Basel Miami Beach with “sewedi sewing” (Sewedi was her mother’s maiden name), an extension of her first solo exhibition held earlier this year at the Cape Town police station Smac Galleryrepresents it. Made from shweshwe, a printed cotton fabric, the work intersects between printmaking and weaving and sculpting.

“Personally, it’s my therapy,” Kavula said, adding that the show was inspired by a dress given to her by her mother’s grandmother. “There is an element of being that you have to be, so you have to demand a stillness no matter what.”

This demand for reflection and serenity from both the artist and the audience is why a number of galleries are displaying works inspired by or inspired by textiles and crafts at Art Basel Miami Beach and other satellite fairs this week.

in Art Basel, Aninat Galeria de Arte From Santiago, Chile, she presents the textile techniques of three leading Latin American women artists: Patricia Belli Nicaragua and Catalina Swinburn and Monica BengoaBoth are Chilean. Meanwhile, Proyectos Ultraviolet Guatemala City and Von Bartha In Basel, Switzerland, it will showcase the work of another Chilean artist, Felipe Mujica, who collaborates with textile artists from countries such as Mexico, China, Brazil and Norway to produce the fabric curtains.

“Harlem Quilt” (1997), a more conceptual textile piece by a Harlem-born Canadian artist June Clark, to be highlighted by Toronto Daniel Faria Gallery while in Anonymous Art Miami Beach edition, Gallery 1957 The Ghanaian exhibition will focus on textiles by Serge Attukwei Clottey, made with duct tape and then superimposed on the photograph.

It’s impossible to miss all this fusion between applied and contemporary art. Mr. Faria said people who have traditionally worked in textiles and crafts in the past, including women, minorities and Indigenous people, are often excluded from the contemporary art canon.

“There’s been a shift lately where voices and perspectives have been so broadened that it’s such a straight line about what art history is and continues to be,” he said, “and there’s been this kind of explosion in our history. understanding of it.”

Applied arts such as sewing, quilting, embroidery, weaving and knitting have historically been seen in domestic applications and have not been deserved by the upper echelons of the art world for years. However, Iliya Fridman gallery will present the textile work of the pioneering “assembly quilting” artist and civil rights activist Dindga McCannon In an email to Art Basel Miami Beach, she wrote that the definition of fine art “has grown to include traditional forms of expression for women’s work.”

Artists like Belli, who is both a sculptor and textile artist, have helped push this frontier of recognition. The tangled fabric of used clothing examines the expectations placed on women historically.

“I think about patriarchy and the role of women,” she said during a video interview, “I think about how these duties and obligations are interpreted by us women, my mother, as a source of meaning and joy in her space. life.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Mujica’s job is to “guide the conversation” towards the domesticity of the production of his curtains. “I think fabric is a tremendous subject and material,” he wrote in an email. He added that different cultures reflect in various ways the role that textiles play in daily life, and that his job is to learn to “combine these different ways and situations”.

In shared quilts in the 19th century encrypted messages With passengers on the Underground Railroad that inspired the Los Angeles-based artist David O. Alekhuogie draped fabric to create wall sculptures Yancey Richardson Gallery of New York will be presenting in Miami.

Another New York gallery, Quantitative Beauchenewill show four works by Mattie Ross (1903-97) and Rachel Carey George (1908-2011), two quilters from Gee’s Bend, Ala. A set of Gee’s Bend quilters, Freedom Quilted Bee Here, Ms. Beauchene said, “they will get together, plan their protest and march, gossip, sing.” He added that “when these quilts were being made” there was “a very surprising history”.

Meanwhile, Ms. Clark immigrated to Canada in 1968 and did not return to Harlem until she took up residence in Harlem. Studio Museum almost 30 years later. His installation uses more than 200 pieces of fabric from second-hand clothing he procures from Goodwill, though not a traditional quilt. Each piece is covered with photographs taken at waist level.

“My mom taught me how to sew and I started sewing clothes into my adult life,” Ms Clark said during a video interview. “Adding visuality to each piece of fabric was an incredibly satisfying feeling for me.”

Mr. Attukwei Clottey, like Ms. Clark and Ms. Kavula, said he understands why so many artists work in the textile field right now. The fabric is “part of our celebration as human beings” and “something that represents who we are,” he said.

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