Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Art for the crafter

It's funny how relatively easy it is to get uptown and downtown in Manhattan and how comparatively difficult it is to get across town. Yes, there's the L train. But aside from being jam packed on its way in from Brooklyn, the L line also ends at 8th Avenue, which is a long way from the Hudson River and the art galleries in Chelsea. And forget the crosstown busses; you couldn't pick a more painful, insanely slow way to cross the island.

For that reason, I'm exceptionally grateful to the Phatory, Kerrigan Campbell, PS122, and Giant Robot for putting their galleries in the East Village. Were it not for these galleries, I wouldn't see art nearly as often as I do. Bebe and I often stop into Giant Robot on our daily walks, and almost every weekend finds the family on a jaunt to the Phatory en route to the dog run at Tompkins Square Park. There's nothing like proximity to encourage the regular enjoyment of art.

I've already been twice to visit Caroline Hwang's show, Wounded but not Broken, at Giant Robot. But it's not just the proximity that's drawn me to the show; the work is intriguing on many levels. Hwang work with layers of fabric, paint, and embroidery to build fascinating little pieces of narrative illustration. She explores the pain and melancholy of relationships through motifs of the mythical native American huntress, her teepee, arrows, and some awfully cute little bears in the forest.

Hwang's working process itself is intriguing; she seems to return to each piece many times during the process of making it. She stitches fabric in a sort of patchwork style, paints on fabric, adds applique, paints again, embroiders on top of paint, and revisits each medium many times so that each piece becomes a complex of interrelated layers. The work is intriguing from a technical standpoint, especially as a crafter viewing her creative process, but also from an artistic level.

In addition to these hanging pieces, Hwang is showing a couple of three-dimensional pieces that enhance her show; in the middle of the gallery she's built a small teepee with a fabric bear inside. Arrows pierce the walls of the gallery above the teepee as though the huntress had stalked the bear and left her victim in the gallery. The window of the gallery showcases another small forest and wildlife vignette.

You can see images of the entire show here. Or course photographs can't do justice to her work, but if you can't see the show in person you can at least get a feel for Hwang's work.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Now I am a fan of her work too!