Contemporary Takes on Traditional Patterns is an exhibition at the Denver Art Museum on view through March 22, 2015. Curated by Judith Trager, a Colorado artist/teacher and well-known expert and advocate for fiber arts, this special “mini-exhibition” consists of smaller works by 10 contemporary artists designed to bring the past and present together as a complement to the larger First Glance/Second Look exhibition featuring 20 quilts from the Museum’s collection.
My piece Progress? was made to complement the “Ordered Chaos” category of the larger exhibition, which features crazy quilts from the late 19th century. My artist statement:
“My work often uses the concepts of time and external forces as a creative starting point. In this piece, I’m exploring the concepts of entropy, decay, and dissipation as applied to a traditional quilting motif, the half-square triangle. When done in dark and light values, this motif is sometimes called Sunshine and Shadows. It recalls the ancient Chinese concept of the dynamic interplay of two opposites — yin and yang.”
Thanks to a $3 million gift from the Avenir Foundation in 2012, the Denver Art Museum has a special department and galleries devoted to textile arts, as well as funding in perpetuity for its staff. Its curator is Dr. Alice Zrebiec, who was named as the Denver Post’s 2013 Top Thinker in the category of Arts and Culture for her work in the transformation and expansion of the department.
Last Thursday, the DAM held a special reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibition, and Dr. Zrebiec did a gallery walkthrough to tell us about the wonderful quilts on display.
The Contemporary Takes pieces are installed in “discovery drawers” in the gallery’s Nancy Lake Benson Thread Studio, a comfortable, inviting interactive area where visitors can learn about many aspects of textile art, have conversations, and see demonstrations. In the photo below, works by Wendy Huhn (near) and Miriam Basart (far). The other artists in this exhibition are Faye Anderson, Sharon Bass, Betsy Cannon, Lynda Faires, Gretchen Hill, the Pixeladies (Kris Sazaki & Deb Cashatt), and Melody Randol.