“Eco” in my lexicon includes more than printing with natural dyes. Vintage textiles repurposed as art media is a major interest for me. So this post's topic is the vintage textile and textile-inspired work by Mickalene Thomas whose work was on recent exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. What charmed me greatly was this:
The artist had sewn patchwork covers for the viewing benches in the exhibition area. I understand she sewed them with her own hands. What a concept!
Just to make the point, here is another image. I love the daring idea that artists sew. And find ways to include viewers in their art beyond eyeballing it.
I believe Thomas' point with the patchwork-covered brenches was not to be cutesy or (that dread, dead term) “inclusive”.
Using a variety of vigourously patterned cottons and polyester fabrics (and many African printed cottons), and rugs and wallpapers besides, she covered not only gallery benches for viewers like me but whole display rooms – couches, chairs, floors, walls, art on the walls…She created IKEA diplays gone maximal and mental and stay-away with prints of every colour and scale, of chaotic value association, no cowardly beiges or whiteys here. Was the patchwork-covered bench outside the display her invitation to bring me as a viewer into museum “rooms” I was otherwise forbidden by guard and cordon to enter? Or was her patchwork gallery bench simply my seat at the back of the bus? Or was I truly welcome to sit where I wanted not only to view the art but to participate in it, feel at home in it? Was she telling me how bloody-well exclusive the Big Art world is still for her and for me? Go Big because you can't go Home here…
Love the Big Stitch
A second area of work was devoted to enormous canvases, collaged or “patched” with patterned fabrics and pieces of painted canvas in characteristic vibrant colours and larger than life forms intended to recall classic art landscapes or works with female subjects and (Thomas is an art historian as well as a practising artist.) Some examples:
Loads of loud textured glitz on this one as on many others
Note the scale of Thomas' paintings.
Finally: An important fashion note. The tall young lady on the extreme left closest to the wall is my hostess and Newly Wed Daughter who asked me to note that the folks in the gallery are wearing the NYC uniform of black from head to toe..the one in the white shirt is a tourist. O, we could learn a thing or two from Mickalene!
More eco prints on paper and some books by medieval authors. And maybe in between an update on my dye plant page!