Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nancy Crow, one-woman show

Rachel and I went yesterday to see a one-woman show of work by Nancy Crow at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass. [I will write about the museum tomorrow] This was a smallish exhibit of work done in 2006,'07 and '08. I was not allowed to photograph inside the galleries so the above photo is all I could take and I'm sorry I can't show more.

Half or a little more of the works were characteristic very bright strips of plain dyed-by-Crow fabric in geometric arrangements with wonderful shading of the colors and very strong geometry. Most were in the first of two small rooms where the walls were white allowing the colors to speak for themselves and the geometrics to be emphasized. They were strong, and dramatic and what I expected to see. Most were hand quilted by other women, [at least one was machine quilted] as I know Nancy has long preferred to plan the quilting and entrust it to a few quilters she knows. The quilting was simple in most cases which add the desired texture but did not distract at all from the impact of the strong lines.

In the second gallery three walls were painted a very saturated marine blue; this was the most interesting room for us. Only one of the "usual" multicolored quilts was here [on the one white wall] the others were pieced with gradation of color, specifically on the many reds, or whole cloth quilts. All were screen printed. A couple used yellow and subtle blue/green as well as black, the others, including the red one used only black. Most had an ecru background. These were entirely different than her familiar work. We liked them very much. They had great strength but were serene compared to the brilliant colors and forms of the pieced quilts. They were larger than usual screen printed pieces. It is exciting to see artists try new methods and express themselves in different ways.

In the other galleries of the museum we saw a variety of crafts, wonderful ceramics, a whole cloth [royal blue] quilt by Michael James -- again very unlike the brilliant geometric pieced quilts he first was known for, likewise, unlike the ones he has been doing the last ten or so years. There were a few very beautiful, simply pieced quilts for sale in the gallery/gift shop at what seemed very high prices. I'm now sorry I didn't photograph them.

Now that some of the earliest American quilt artists are getting into their 70s, it will be interesting to me to see how their work evolves. I'm sure it's too soon to suppose that the screen printed pieces represent a mellowing and turning away from Crow's signature use of piecing and strong color. I have been watching the art quilt movement with an outsider observer's eye for some 30 years. I am neither an art critic nor a quilt historian -- and certainly not an art quilter myself -- but, as a curious and knowledgeable observer I was very happy to see this mixed exhibit.

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