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Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present


Faith Wilding, Crocheted Environment, 1972/1995
Faith Wilding, Crocheted Environment, 1972/1995

Woolworth’s Sweetheart acrylic yarn and sisal rope
108 x 108 x 108 in.
The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Gift of the artist
Photo by Charles Mayer
Shelia Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (E.2013.0469)
Shelia Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (E.2013.0469)

Installation view
Whitney Biennial 2014, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 7—May 25, 2014
Collection of the artist; courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
Photograph by Bill Orcutt
© Sheila Hicks
Faith Wilding, Crocheted Environment, 1972/1995
Shelia Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (E.2013.0469)

Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present

Feb 7, 2015–Apr 12, 2015

“Splendid, viscerally engaging… [a] groundbreaking exhibition.”—Boston Globe

Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present is the first exhibition in four decades to broadly examine the development and diversity of fiber-based work in contemporary art. The survey includes 33 artists (Ernesto Neto, Rosemarie Trockel, and Alexandre da Cunha among them) whose boundary-pushing works explore abstraction, materiality, and the blurred lines between art and craft. The exhibition was organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, where it made its debut in October 2014; the Wexner Center is the first stop on its tour.

This exhibition revels in the diversity not only of fiber itself, but its application and potential for use in a range of scales, from the intimate to the architectural. You’ll encounter such immersive works as Sheila Hicks’s Banisteriopsis II (1965–66/2010), an amorphous yellow wool-and-linen freestanding sculpture whose shape-shifting form exploits the flexibility of the medium to create a work with infinite installation possibilities. A haunting large-scale mixed-media work, Haegue Yang’s Floating Knowledge and Growing Craft—Silent Architecture Under Construction (2013) appears as a floating island strewn with long-forgotten mementoes. The work incorporates the sounds of radio programs and podcasts Yang listened to while creating the work—an auditory element that creates a poignant tension between public and private, past and present.

There has long been a bias against compositions involving fiber. Such works were historically gendered feminine, carrying connotations of intimacy and domesticity. These characteristics relegated fiber compositions to the realm of craft, far away from the world of fine art. Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present traces the evolution of fiber-based artwork as artists and curators have engaged with and boldly abandoned these historical confines. Ultimately the exhibition affirms the limitless potential for conceptual and material exploration in contemporary fiber art—firmly situating fiber composition within the broad framework of art-making in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present is organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and curated by Jenelle Porter, Mannion Family Senior Curator.

Major support for the exhibition is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; The Coby Foundation, Ltd.; Kate and Chuck Brizius; Robert and Jane Burke; Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser; Karen and Brian Conway; Bridgitt and Bruce Evans; Jim and Audrey Foster; Allison and Edward Johnson; Barbara Lee; Tristin and Martin Mannion; Mark and Marie Schwartz; and Anonymous.

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