De Buck Gallery is pleased to present Threaded Memory, a group exhibition of quilts and fiber pieces featuring work by artists Stephen Towns, Gommaar Gilliams, Marielle Plaisir, Tina Williams Brewer, Ardeshir Tabrizi and Chiachio & Giannone. The exhibition will be on view from June 11th to July 11th in De Buck Gallery’s online viewing room and will serve as a preview for a forthcoming exhibition as part of the gallery’s 2020-2021 programming. The artists in this exhibition utilize the layering of fiber and textile to explore personal narratives of identity, collective history, and generational healing.
Stephen Towns’ ongoing quilt series celebrates the aesthetic traditions of African American women while exploring America’s history of slavery and labor. The quilts speak to how fabric preserves memory, both in Towns’ deeply personal connection to his materials as well as through the narratives he depicts of historical African Americans, including references to Nat Turner and most recently, Harriet Tubman. By hand-stitching pieces of fabric worn by his mother and late sister, Mabel, Towns weaves his own connection to the history of women into the work.
Gommaar Gilliams’ fiber works examine the ways in which textile, fabric, and stitching hold emotion, and create a sense of intimacy between the works and the viewer. Gilliams utilizes an inventive layering process to create his works. He imbues his paintings with a sense of time and history, through a process of preparing fabrics with many layers of paint, then tearing the fabric off of his studio walls to create a weathered surface that references the aging of frescos. Gilliams then cuts the fabric into pieces, and assembles these worn surfaces into new sewn collages. In this way, each work is unique, with its own individual surface history.
Marielle Plaisir’s painted “tapestry” works mix fabric with acrylic and inks. The works examine social domination from slavery in the Carribean through present day oppression. Her tapestry series explores counter narratives about domination as well as the construction of identity. These works exist at a cross section between activism and dreaming: she blurs the lines between history and an imagined realm that simultaneously references the past while imagining new possibilities for the future. This two-part process she refers to as “the activist” and the “utopia.” Through “the activist,” she explores and denounces social domination, and then reimagines the world through “the utopia,” her creation of a reverse of the world through dreamlike and surreal imagery that often references fairy tales.
Tina Williams Brewer’s spiritual and emotional pieces are primarily hand-quilted and collage mixed-mediums including photo transfers, printmaking, and hand-beading. Each piece is embellished with symbols drawn from African nations and rich colorful fabrics with patterns that allude to both cultural and personal histories. Her process creates complex, layered compositions that function as portals and maps that investigate her heritage, the African diaspora, and the links between past, present, and future.
Ardeshir Tabrizi’s intricately embroidered works reflect his journey to reconnect with Iran, a country he left behind in his youth. His work is layered with symbols that represent the many opposing cultural, political and religious ideologies, which have existed within Iran throughout its history. By combining these symbols with his own memories of Iran as a child during the Iran-Iraq war, his works intertwine history and memory with new constructs he has formed since coming to the United States. The mixture of these unique views provides the imagery and symbolism brought to the canvas through materials and methods common to Iran, such as thread and embroidery.
Chiachio & Giannone’s imaginative fiber pieces explore a wide variety of topics including dreams, the passage of time, homage to artists they admire, travel and migration. The works are elaborately hand-embroidered in rich detail, with some including a process that includes a base of screen-printing in multiple layers of pigments and colors. Their works often center surreal self-portraits of the duo that challenge family models in Latin American culture.
Given these difficult times of social isolation, the work in Threaded Memory is particularly timely as each of these pieces carry so much of the artists’ hand in the work. The legacy of fiber works is intertwined with the history of storytelling, and we hope that the stories in this exhibition will inspire you to feel a sense of connection and comfort even as you view the work from your homes.
Image: Kneeling Dervish, 2019, Ardeshir Tabrizi. Courtesy of the artist and De Buck Gallery.