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Denise C. Miller, "Monocalm #1," muslin gauze, thread.
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Naomi Schmidt, "Untitled," screen printing on fabric
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Mari Ono, "Untitled #1"
CLAY HO! LET'S SEW!
Gallery 803, Winnipeg
July 20 – Aug 31, 2006
By Kristen Pauch-Nolin
Defined by a wild and diverse range of styles, the cohesion of Clay Ho! Let’s Sew at Gallery 803 in Winnipeg’s Elan Designs showroom is found through quirk, rather than an overarching theme or shared aesthetic. Jenny Moore Koslowsky, Johanna Schmidt, Mari Ono, Kelli Rey, Denise C. Miller, and Naomi Schmidt each create work that is funny, industrious and straightforward, drawing inspiration from personal experience. Each piece reveals the artists unique personality and sense of humour and is supported by the work’s technical accomplishment and conceptual clarity.
Positioned alongside Elan’s wall of upholstery samples Moore Koslowsky’s installation Custer/Cloister features a small grouping of fabric pillars. Measuring between five and six feet each, the pieces in combination resemble a forest of stuffed cloth. Described by the artist as intentionally designed to manipulate proportion, viewers are encouraged to physically interact with the work, inspired by its scale and tactility.
Similarly, Rey views her ceramic wall sculptures as “invitations for viewers to interpret and respond to the work, to evoke a reaction that is unique and individual”. The minimal and abstract pieces are animated by colour, texture and form rather than recognizable subject matter, resulting in works that are appealing both visually and sensually.
Tactility and surface quality also interest Miller, who incorporates fabric into her art practice. Monocalm #1and #2 feature torn strips of unbleached cloth, stitched together by hand, and stretched across standard wooden painting supports. Though static in their finished state, the pieces communicate the significance of the work’s creation process.
Schmidt celebrates the tools used in her art-making by screen-printing images of common objects like scissors and hammers onto coloured pieces of fabric. Intentionally kept simple, the Pop inspired pieces reveal a universal human desire to create and the most basic utilitarian tools that are required.
Created primarily out of porcelain, Schmidt’s work resembles implausible and dreamlike creatures? absurd spiders and animated fish skeletons? that reflect the artist’s experience of urban culture. Rey combines punk rock, B-movie camp, and animation-inspired visuals to create pieces that appear equally strange and compelling.
Ono’s work begins with a recognizable base? a bonsai tree, cupcakes or sushi? embellished with trinkets. It reflects the Japanese Canadian artist’s response to living between two worlds and cultures.
Installed in a design showroom without the assistance of a curator and displayed without interpretive texts,Clay Ho! Let’s Sew! demonstrates a movement by young artists to embrace a variety of materials, processes, and themes, and the work doesn’t require contextualization or analysis in order to be viewed and enjoyed.