Some of the strongest work in World of Threads is paper art, be it cast, collaged, or stitched. Although it is not in the main gallery, I would argue that the centerpiece of the entire Festival is an installation made of cast paper by the young Korean-American artist Sun Young Kang entitled Between Presence and Absence.
Kang has cast countless objects of everyday use – plastic water bottles, wine bottles, goblets, bowls and jars – in white handmade paper. The ragged open seams reveal and obscure the space within each item. The piece is both simple and complex at the same time, creating a pleasing tension.
“Nearly every facet of life that we understand is dependent on our visual perception of the world, predisposing us to only see the “present.” But it is not difficult to perceive that our world is composed of two antithetical ideas: presence and absence, life and death. These ideas can be understood in the Buddhist philosophy of “Emptiness”—every existence, every single moment that has ever existed, can only be conceived as either past or future. The abstract nature of this concept is often difficult to grasp, but my work is an attempt to secularize this fundamental idea.”
Sun Young also had an installation of canvases wrapped in white thread, each with a single black hair applied. She also makes books and I urge you to visit her website to see her substantial body of work. Some of her artist books have text written with embroidered hair.
My personal favorite piece in all of World of Threads was You are Here by Eszter Bornemisza of Hungary.
I’ve seen Eszter’s work online and in catalogs, but never up close and personal. I could never fully appreciate it until now. It really demands to be viewed up close where you can see the text, the fine lines, and color shifts. Made from newspaper and other recycled papers that are stitched into elaborate, layered webs, You are Here looks like a map of some enigmatic inner world. The unreadable text suggests meaning without revealing its secrets. The shadows cast on the wall add even more dimension and interest. Here is a link to a great artist interview I found online: http://conversations.jigsy.com/eszter-bornemisza.
Another wonderful discovery at World of Threads was the work of Teddy Milder from Berkeley, California. Teddy’s installation, Wall Constructions, was one of the strongest solo shows at the Festival. Her work features handmade Amate paper, printed with photographic images of masonry walls, embellished with stitch, and suspended between barbed wire.
From her statement, she made the paper at an artist residency in Oaxaca shortly after Trump was elected President. Her imagery honors the ancient cultural heritage of Mexico in response to Trump’s xenophobic wall rhetoric. The contrast between the barbed wire mounting and the subtle beauty of her stitched prints is very effective. Teddy works in several media and I encourage you to visit her website to see more of her work. http://www.teddymilder.com
Last but not least, I was very impressed with the work of Szilvia Revesz. She uses sumi ink and fabric dye on paper in a process similar to marbeling called Suimonga monotype printing. The results are beautiful swirling abstractions that look more like leather than paper. She then machine stitches dense webs of thread in the spaces between her monotypes using Urauchi Yoshi backing.
I honestly have no idea what Urauchi Yoshi is and I only partially understand how her work is made. All I know is that I like it very much!
My next, and last, post about The World of Threads Festival will include a few highlights of “everything else” I saw there, including surface design and fiber sculpture.