August 2 - September 20, 2015
We've become accustomed to perfection; we expect it. Particularly in the manufactured goods we buy. Despite the occasional random note slipped into a new pair of trousers announcing that that particular garment was inspected by "Ann" (or an anonymous number) we have no interest in whose hands assembled the object we bought. Instead, we'd prefer to assume that no human hands touched the item at all, that everything were made by machines.
Machines work tirelessly and predictably. What they're programmed to do will be done and the first will look like the last. As consumers, we take this for granted in all commodities. We're trained to look for flaws and reject any defect. Bad seams, uneven color, a nick or a dent—it goes back to the store for replacement or a refund. We've even extended this mania for perfection to our food. We will not buy spotted apples or oranges that aren't brightly consistent.
This makes the work of an artist especially difficult. Increasingly, the artist is expected to compete with the slick results of machine manufacturing. An impeccable line is favored above the idiosyncratic hand of the maker. The variance that occurs from hand applying a color is considered a clumsy mistake. We want what an artist does to look like a product. In some contemporary art practices, this is exactly what is done. The object is created in a way that emulates manufacturing methods and reduces the evidence of the individual in order that the object can be more saleable.
The exhibition 3: Patricia Dahlman, Robyn Ellenbogen, Julie McHargue, goes against the current towards glistening, corporatized fabrication. It is not only an appreciation for the handmade in art, but a paean to craftsmanship. Patricia Dahlman uses sewing as another way to draw. "I sew marks with thread that one might make using pencil or paint. I like the surface, light and the feel of an embroidery that you get in a sewn drawing." Her large hanging fabric sculpture, "Figure in Red," harkens to a three-dimensional Stuart Davis painting. The colored shapes are ostensibly figurative, but it is the relationships of the colored shapes as they move in space that is the true idea of the piece. In talking about her use of materials Dahlman says, "I want to get to the idea rather than deal with a more complicated working process such as welding or making ceramics."Catalogue Here