Weaving New Patterns in Fiber Art

While weaving is as old as civilization, new technologies allow artists to create woven images in original ways. The Milwaukee Museum of Art exhibits recent works using digital technology allowing the artist, Christy Matson, to control every thread of her loom. This allows him to paint threads in acrylics and watercolors with pinpoint determination and manipulate materials with previously impossible precision.

“Currents 38: Christy Matson” is the latest installment in the contemporary art series launched by MAM in 1982. It is the first “Current” to feature a fiber artist. The exhibit includes 40 woven objects, many of which were produced by Matson during the worst times of the COVID shutdown.

“It was a two-year residency in my own studio!” she says. Even juxtaposing her daughter’s homeschooling with creating art, the pandemic has been productive. She describes “working at a different pace” with the patience gained from having fewer places to go and fewer things to do.

many horizons (2020) gives a sense of lockdown isolation. Textured, three-dimensional and multi-layered, many horizons is constructed as a series of woven horizontals cut by a smaller number of verticals. The image places the viewer inside, looking through a set of windows, the viewing aperture narrowed by Venetian blinds. The Pandemic Coin on a Monumental Scale magical thinking (2020) – Matson explains that she thought “the only way to overcome this is through magical thinking” – now part of MAM’s permanent collection.

Modernist abstract painting provided Matson with direction in his earlier work. At first glance, some of its woven bands of color suggest Mark Rothko in a bright mood while the pale undertones of minimalism in other images are reminiscent of Agnes Martin. Figuration becomes more evident in floral and cruciform designs that reference traditional craftsmanship.

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“Currents 38” includes video by Milwaukee expat Sam Bacon incorporating a montage of footage from Los Angeles, where Chicago-raised Matson has lived since 2012, in a documentary about his working methods, creating surface patterns and structure from a stack. yarn and a paint palette.

Curated by Monica Obniski and coordinated by Margaret Andera, “Current 38: Christy Matson” will be on view until July 17. For more information, visit mam.org.

David Luhrssen

David Luhrssen has taught at UWM and MIAD. He is the author of The Vietnam War on Film, Encyclopedia of Classic Rock and Hammer of the Gods: Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism.

Read more by David Luhrssen

February 25, 2022

9:30 a.m.

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