Needlepoint pillows with still images of JFK’s assassination.
Fabric sculptures of slaughtered beef.
Infant clothing knitted of fibers from bullet proof vests.
These incongruent juxtapositions are part of “Critical Stitch,” which opens Thursday, Oct. 7 at the Mandeville Gallery in the Nott Memorial.
This major new show brings together 12 contemporary artists who incorporate sewing, embroidery, knitting and other related forms in their work, connecting these materials and techniques to a range of hotly debated subjects, from militarization to consumerism.
“These artists demonstrate that meaningful and critical content can be expressed through a variety of forms, and in doing so, they disable any lingering assumptions or stereotypes associated with the term ‘craft,’” said Lorraine Morales Cox, professor of art history and the show’s curator.
"They strategically and poetically use metaphor, humor and satire in ways that provoke us to consider important issues of the day.”
For instance, those needlepoint JFK pillows, by San Francisco artist Richard Bassett, turn us toward the subject of nostalgia and traumatic memory.
The slaughtered beef sculptures, by Argentinean artist Tamara Kostianovsky, stir debates surrounding the consumption of meat and the inhumane treatment of animals.
And the series of infant and toddler clothes made of Kevlar from the Gulf War by Providence R.I. sculptor Dave Cole raises questions about safety, service and the disasters of war.
The show also features work by Margarita Cabrera, Rob Conger, Lauren DiCioccio, Barb Hunt, Mark Newport, Laurel Roth, Alicia Ross, Vadis Turner and Johanna Unzueta.
A gallery talk and opening reception will be held Thursday, Oct. 7, 5-7 p.m. with Hunt and Unzueta. A panel discussion with Newport, DiCioccio and Cabrera and art history scholar Elissa Auther is set for Thursday, Oct. 21, 4-5:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.
“Critical Stitch” runs through Dec. 19.
The exhibition and programming are supported by a Union College Internal Education Grant; the American Studies, and Women and Gender Studies programs; the departments of English, History, Political Science and Visual Arts; the offices of Campus Diversity, the Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies and Special Programs, and the Dean of Studies; and UNITAS.
Cox is exploring ways to integrate the exhibition into classroom discussions of everything from environmental issues to industrialization, immigration, gender and sexuality. She can arrange private group tours of the show for faculty members before a class visit.
Contact her at email@example.com.