Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Photo Essay: Lace in Translation

Apologies, dear readers, on last week's lack of post; I was in Philadelphia, PA for the weekend and although I brought my computer intending to update and such, opportunities were scarce to do so. The Mid-Atlantic branch of the Costume Society of America had a nice little get-together Saturday, March 8th, and I enjoyed meeting the other members as Jane Likens, Professor at Philadelphia University, organized a close-up tour of the Design Center's "Lace in Translation" exhibition followed by a meet-and-greet with Jay McCarroll, Alumni of Philadelphia University and the first winner of Project Runway.

The exhibition is really cool and different; as a tribute, I created a photo essay.

This is actually a photo from the "Lace in Translation" website. Dutch design house Demakersvan (translates simply as "The Makers of...") created this on-site installation and has donated it to the Design Center. It is the first thing one sees as they drive into the Design Center parking lot, and it makes a strong first impression.

Inside the museum, Dutch artist Tord Boontje encapsulates the first room with darkness. Boontje used lace-making techniques with utilitarian materials like this rope to create a seating arrangement. Boontje's inspiration came from an African fable about a Princess who falls in love with a spider. Spiders have long been associated as "Earth weavers and spinners of thread";Boontje's pieces in the black room reflect the complicated yet beautiful nature of arachnid webs.
The next room is filled with raffia sculpture, utilizing the same concept of lace techniques to create contemporary objects. The raffia connects nature, balance and complication within the theme of "Lace in Translation."

Metal played a large role in the exhibition's overall theme. The idea of welding and cutting such an industrial item to create something as delicately beautiful as lace was a very nouveau concept for me.Lights were inserted into raffia-lace lamps, accentuating the features of the room and creating a sense of warmth lacking in the black room.

A school-wide call for artists was sent out to help with the construction of the largest raffia-lace piece, strung in front of the window. Students from all backgrounds were involved based on the ambiguity of "construction" - studio art, architecture and fashion design students volunteered their time to make this piece a reality.

Models of the lace techniques used on the wall hanging. Some took as many as 40 hours to complete.

The white room housed prototypes of the black lace couch, along with a display case of raffia jewelry and these hand-stenciled, white bark curtains. It was a bright transition to the outdoor garden where the exhibition continued.

Canadian artist Cal Lane uses welding to provoke new ideas and dimensionalize art from discarded objects such as dumpsters and oil tanks. In warm weather, a fountain surrounded by a pool highlights the barrel's strange beauty.

These are fragments from the oil barrel welding process, delicately arranged as a large design.

Lane's inspiration for her oil tank design came from a piece of Quaker lace from the Design Center's collection. It's wonderful to see such a modern execution of an age-old craft.

"Lace in Translation" will close on April 3rd. Because of budgetary reasons, the University will be closing the Design Center until further notice. This is problematic because many objects are housed in the Design Center and on-campus storage is not easily found. The space is also architecturally important; a wonderful example of 1950s architecture, the former home of Goldie Paley sets a modern backdrop to any exhibit. Without this unique space, the University does not have an opportunity to display its collections, student projects or invited artist works such as those who donated their time to "Lace in Translation. Hopefully the University's administration will realize its importance and continue to produce innovative exhibits in the future.