Thursday, April 5, 2012


I feel amiss in just now getting around to writing about my favorite show when I was in Philly. It was one of those "I wanted to have enough time to really write about it so kept putting it off and then finally realized I will never have the time I want so need to right about it now!"

Mending=Art is at the Gershwin Y right on Broad St in the The Borowsky Gallery. The gallery was a very nice space with high ceilings and tall windows. The exhibit, curated by guest curator Diane Savona, was extremely thoughtful and quite poetic in its selection of works and artists. Interestingly I had just had a very interesting email dialogue with Diane a few weeks prior to the show so it was great to meet her in person and see her vision as a curator.

The show featured a large wall of Erin Endicott's Healing Sutra's which by the time I saw the show felt familiar but were undeniably suited to the exhibit. Endicott's work is all about healing. On Erin's website she very poetically speaks about her work:

Delicate cloth
Beautifully worn and threadbare
Stained by an artist’s hand
Walnut ink flowing into complex organic shapes
Subtleties of value, depth
Bringing the wound to life...
Drawing with thread
The Healing begins

Other then Erin almost all of the artist were unfamiliar to me, which of course was what made the show so exciting to see. After seeing so many exhibits of artists that I admire but already know it was refreshing and invigorating to see a gallery full of artists to discover. Diane featured a number of European and British artists so I am curious as to how she curated the exhibit. She must have done extensive research to find the group of artists as they span over very well known artists to emerging and span a large part of the globe. But what Diane did so well is place the work together in a way that conversation occurred between pieces. Read another little review of Illaria's work in the show here.

I already wrote a post about artist Amy Houghton who's video work was a powerful addition to the exhibit read my feature here. Another artist that really jumped out to me was Italian artist Illaria Margutti. Her painting sized embroidered portraits of women "making or mending themselves" pop off the wall with her dramatic choice of red thread and the fact that she literally leaves the needle in the piece. The choice to leave the needle adds even more pain and drama to the image. And lucky for you and me she is my next featured interview on Mr. X Stitch so we will learn all about her work and process.

Wolfie E. Rawk's work was also quite interesting, also done in red thread. Wolfie explores ideas of gender, identity, and the body through sampler like, almost life size works.

Micheal Swaine a west coast based artist's performance works, seen as video in the gallery, were a thoughtful and important addition to the exhibit. In his performances he offers free mending services on the streets of San Francisco. He drags his machine out and mends for you right in the street. The thought behind the work reminds us of the ideas of kindness, repair, community, and the slowly becoming lost art of mending. The idea of the work is somewhat similar to an installation of Lee Mengwei in Chelsea a few years ago. But I like how Micheal takes it out of the gallery world and really invites a dialogue with the community.

Sally Spinks of Britain "covers up" nudes from great works of art found on postcards. She knits little clothing's to cover them. Exploring issues of decency, propriety, and perception.

Other artists included in the show are Dorothy Caldwell, whom the show is dedicated too, Janet Haigh, Diane Savona, Barbara Shapiro, Libbie Soffer (above), and Jan Vormann.

I loved how Diane herself wrote a very introspective curators statement that introduces her love for the art of mending giving homage to the Japanese tradition, kintsugi, of repairing ceramics with gold colored lacquer resin. She had a wonderful booklet at the opening of the exhibit to put the show in context showing historical traditions of mending and other contemporary artists working with it as a conceptual inspiration. Each artist has a small statement next to their work allowing a greater understanding of the work for the viewer.

has a wonderful sense of both cohesion and diversity. Diane featured work that dealt with issue of mending with a sense of humor & playfulness, that dealt directly with the pain of healing, that questioned our desire to mend or fix things, and that honored objects of the past. In the end she presents us with an excellent show that makes us think and feel as we discover the artists and their story.

And you have plenty of time to go see it. It is up until May 6.


Jennifer said...

Hi. I was checking the stats on my blog and saw yours listing as the referring site several and ventured over to take a look. Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise to see who "Little Yellow Birds" really is. I loved your piece in Outside/Inside in the Box at the Crane Arts Building in Philly! It was so realistic. Wonderfully creative and definitely outside the box, as it were.

Thank you for linking to my post about Mending = Art! I hope to see more of your work in the future.

Joetta M. said...

My pleasure to link to you and thank you for your kind words to my work:)