Curator Larkin Jean Van Horn selected the theme “Deep Spaces” following a conversation with friends about the limits of space and the photography from the Hubble telescope. While it was clear that textile art dealing with the cosmos would be an appealing exhibit, the title implied so much more. Artists interested in participating in the exhibit were encouraged to interpret the theme in any manner that suited them, and the entries are outstanding.
The artists went deep into space, deep underground, deep under water, deep into the woods, canyons, and prairies, and deep into the mysteries of the heart. Each artist worked in her own style, whether photo-realism or pure abstraction or something in between. Holding all this wide variety together is a common size: 18 inches wide by 45 inches long.
The task of choosing the fifty pieces in the exhibit from the hundred-plus submitted fell to Larkin and two other highly experienced textile artists: Debra Calkins and Anne Niles Davenport.
At top, Medusa (detail) by Betty Busby. Photo by G. Amour Van Horn.
Larkin Jean Van Horn, Curator and Juror
Textiles and mixed media, as art for the wall and three-dimensional structures, form the basis of my work. I draw my inspiration from a variety of sources: my own imagination and strong sense of drama, the colorists and abstract expressionists of the past, and the wild variety of the natural world. At times, my work is a response to the grey Pacific Northwest winters; at other times it reflects the natural energy of spring and summer.
A central feature of my work is texture, both visual and literal. Whether I am exploring the organic features of my island home — the waves and tide lines, wind-bent trees, strata and fissures in the rocks on the seashore — or the inner landscape of emotions, spirit and self, I want my work to have as much interest for the fingertips as for the eye – hence, the decision to work with fabric, fiber, beads, and found objects. Finding myself drawn to the alchemy and serendipity of dyeing and painting my own fabrics and yarns to create a vibrant “paint box” of materials, seems an appropriate approach to the abstract imagery of the work.
Although my inspiration is drawn from the great outdoors, the work is created on a more intimate scale. Most of my pieces are appropriate for private spaces, small nooks, and niches.
Debra Calkins, Juror
The instructions from the curator where to put together a cohesive show. I believe we accomplished that directive. However, it wasn’t quite that simple in execution. Jurying was an interesting process of balancing the execution of the theme, the quality of the work, and the exhibition as a whole. Some good art was not selected and the decisions were not always easy to make. I think the viewer will enjoy and appreciate the variety of work presented.
Anne Niles Davenport, Juror
The “Deep Spaces” theme encourages the possibility of myriad interpretations, which in turn can form the basis for a broad range of finished work. In reviewing the pieces submitted for this exhibit, I noticed that some of my own ideas wanted to guide my responses to and decisions about what I was looking at. It became important to set these “preconceptions” aside and take each work as itself, to appreciate and critique in something like a mental vacuum.
It was intriguing to notice how unique, even quirky, some of the interpretations are. The pieces that most firmly caught my attention and admiration were apparently quite simple, but with a subtle complexity of color and texture that were rich and compelling. Throughout the jurying process, I looked for pieces that noticeably expressed the exhibit’s theme, as well as for ones which showed a coherence of idea, thought and execution. I’m more interested in aesthetics than in technical perfection, so how a quilt appeared as a whole was more important than whether or not it was perfectly or precisely made. The last stage of selecting the exhibition pieces was to consider how all the ones chosen held up as a group, whether the group as a whole was better than merely the sum of its parts. I think it is.
Anne is a full-time studio textile artist, working in weaving, hand knitting and quilt-making. Her work is exhibited and sold in galleries, in her studio, and on-line, as well as by private commission. She teaches and mentors up-and-coming textile students near and far.