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BAM Biennial 2012: High Fiber Diet

Bellevue Arts Museum
Bellevue WA – Oct 25, 2012-Feb 24, 2013

Jan Hopkins, Oh Eleanor

Jan Hopkins, Oh Eleanor (2012), grapefruit peel, cantaloupe peel, ginkgo leaves, ostrich shell beads, hydrangea petals, lunaria seed pods, cedar bark and waxed linen [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 25-Feb 24] Collection of Kamm Teapot Foundation - Sonny and Gloria Kamm / Photo: Ken Rowe

David Chatt, Bedside Table [detail]

David Chatt, Bedside Table [detail] (2011), found objects covered in sewn glass beads, wood table [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 25-Feb 24] Collection of Al Berger and Carol Auerbach / Photo: Courtesy of the artist

April Marie Hale, Interstitial [detail]

April Marie Hale, Interstitial [detail] (2012) felted wool, elk and cattle bones, shotgun shells, steel [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 25-Feb 24] On loan courtesy of the artist / Photo: Doug Yaple

Nate Steigenga, The Infallible Accounts of the Tilapia People and the Dead Which Soon Outnumbered Them: a Toile De Jouy [detail]
Nate Steigenga, The Infallible Accounts of the Tilapia People and the Dead Which Soon Outnumbered Them: a Toile De Jouy [detail] (2012), bed sheets, pillow shams, drawer liner [Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue WA, Oct 25-Feb 24] Courtesy of the artist / Photo: Doug Yaple

This second edition of Bellevue Arts Museum’s Biennial focuses on the medium of fibre. The 44 artists of High Fiber Diet explore a wide range of methods, materials and meaning. The exhibit runs the gamut from pieces that pay homage to craft traditions – like Polly Adams Sutton’s asymmetrical baskets made of western red cedar bark – to conceptually-based pieces that might only hint at fibre art practices – like Amanda Manitach’s video of her embroidering a lamb’s tongue in glitzy glass beads over the course of three days.

Well-known artists like Margie Livingston, Sherry Markovitz and Lou Cabeen have a presence in this show, yet unexpected surprises like Oh Eleanor by Jan Hopkins, a teapot woman whose meticulously articulated skin is made from grapefruit and cantaloupe peel, seed pods and other organic matter, are perhaps the most intriguing. Many pieces are grounded by the theme of nature, using materials often specific to the artist’s region, such as embroidered lichen patterns, elk bones and shotgun shells enveloped in soft wool, and formal woven studies of native Northwest tree bark.

Familiar materials comprise some of the “warmest” works in this exhibit like Nate Steigenga’s allegorical world made of collaged bed sheets or Luke Haynes’ photo-inspired quilts made from repurposed clothing. Similarly, David Chatt’s sentimental piece, where the belongings from his late father’s bedside table are painstakingly covered in tiny white stitched beads, gives a sense of emotional worth by capturing the objects as timeless and unforgotten.

Several large-scale installations like Tamara Wilson’s recreation of her studio environment in life-size felt – complete with the quirky reality of coffee-ring stained paper and a cinder block holding up the table – also invite viewers to experience a very personal space in a familiar way.

Allyn Cantor


 Sat, Feb 16, 2013