Friday, October 11, 2019

Surface Design Association Conference, Beyond the Surface, St Louis, Missouri

The Surface Design Association's 2019 biennial conference, Beyond the Surface, was in St Louis, Missouri. It was held in conjunction with the Innovations in Textiles 2019 a three-month-long event held every four years. With 43 participating venues and a large number of other museums and other historic buildings in the St Louis area, SDA members attending the conference had to come up with a plan to make the most of their time. We couldn't see it all even when arriving early in St Louis and leaving a few days after the conference.
One of the highlights for me was SDA's own annual juried members' exhibition Beyond the Surface. Jurors Jo Stealey and Jim Arendt said in their opening remarks they selected 48 artists who demonstrated a "well-developed artistic vision" and mastery of their craft, both factors equally weighted. The gallery was full of strong works executed with an exceptionally high skill level.

Kathy Nida, Swallow Me Whole, raw edge applique with quilted ground, 67" x 76"
First place award
Kathy's website/blog https://kathynida.com/

Swallow Me Whole, detail
It was fun to stand in front of this work and come up with a story. Kathy has perfected her technique and uses it consistently making her work easy to recognise. She knows her biology so well she pushes, pulls and exaggerates it with great humour. Check out her website for more of her funny/serious narrative quilts.

Marie Bergstedt, In There, fulled fabric sculpted wall hanging, 48" x 35" x 3.5"
Second place award
Marie's website https://mariebergstedtartist.com/home.html

In There, detail
Sorry about the fuzzy image but it was the only one I took and I wanted to show the sculptural 3D quality of this work. Marie is a fibre artist who has perfected several different techniques. I have seen some of her amazing button works and know she is a skilled embroiderer. I didn't know she also works in wool. This work is kinda icky and at the same time warm and fuzzy. Marie really plays with the viewer's emotions.

Leslie Horan Simon, Geologic Time, 34.5" x 27" x 0.5"
Third place award winner

Geologic Time, detail
This close up shows how Leslie knit then fulled each stone before attaching it to a black felt ground.
If I was forced to pick my favourite work this would be it. It got me with being knit and fulled, 2 techniques not often used in quality fibre artwork. I was enchanted with the luminosity of colour Leslie managed to achieve with fuzzy wool.
I did have many other second favourites.

Chris Motley, Here and There, hand-knit wire and fibre, 43" x 50" x 4"
I would have preferred the individual units hung level at the top to give more of a suggestion of downward movement.

Here and There, detail
Chris is a knitter and as a result, has a vast range of techniques she can use as well as a world of different materials that can be worked with two sticks. In this work, Chris shows the sculptural quality that can be achieved with the knit stitch.

Chris in front of her work opening night. I did enjoy talking with her about her work.

Nanhee Kim, Layered Fluidity, nomex, monofilament yarn, 48" x 36" x 4"

Another knitted work caught my eye, surprise surprise. This one worked in a stiff 'yarn' so the shaping stood out in raised relief. It made for the most interesting play of values strengthening the form.
Nanhee Kim describes herself as a "knit textile/surface/ fashion designer and artist."

Melinda K. P. Stees, st equal px, knitted yarn mounted on a rigid internal frame, 24" x 29"
Melinda's website https://imageknits.com/about/

st = px, detail
Melinda says about her work, "The strong contrasting colors can catch your eye from across a room, while the knitted texture will pique your curiosity when you’re up close enough to see it."
You may also notice this computer-programmed, machine-knit work has been worked from the right to the left, with the stitches presented lying on their sides. I wonder if Melinda did this and stretched the work on a rigid frame to counter knit fabric's characteristic drape.

Time Notes: Day, detail
Here is another work with computer-programmed, machine-knit work in a scale making it readable only from the other side of the room.

Ann Clark, Time Notes: Day, knit fulled wool, 93" x 66" x  0.25"
Ann made this work as a rug. As fabulous as it looks on the wall I imagine the impact of the image would read differently when viewed from above while walking.

I was delighted there were so many knit works in this exhibition showing 'the best of contemporary work by SDA members.'

Check out Wendy Klotz's blog post about what she saw during the SDA conference, here and see more on what there was to see and do in St Louis.

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