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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
FairfaxExhibition takes updated look a fiber materials

Exhibition takes updated look a fiber materials

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Whether repurposed coffee filters, handmade paper or crocheted yarn, creatively used fiber holds center stage in the McLean Project for the Arts’ latest shows.

“In the Round: Dimensional Fiber Works,” now on display at MPA’s Emerson Gallery, showcases works by YunKyoung Cho, Linda Colsh, Michael Gessner, Sookkyung Park and Kristina Penhoet.

“The idea behind the exhibits was to assemble a small group of artists who were working with fiber-based materials, but doing it in a three-dimensional way,” said Nancy Sausser, MPA’s curator and exhibitions director. “When you think about fiber, you usually think about cloth and quilts and paper, too – things that are flat and two-dimensional.”

The selected artists’ styles differ from each other more than in some previous MPA shows, Sausser said.

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“These are just really inventive artists who are breaking out of the confines of the expectations of the materials and using them in new ways,” she said.

Cho’s works employ quilted fabric in designs both symmetrical and quirky. One that’s sure to bring smiles to viewers’ faces is “Pandemic 2020,” a crocheted work depicting a Starbucks coffee cup, Amazon package, cupcake, balls of yarn and other emblems of a year spent cooped up and away from other people.

Colsh’s artworks make use of a wide range of media. “Fog and Veil,” for example, features 24 double-sided fans constructed from paper coffee filters that she stained with coffee, painted, screen-printed and stitched together.

Another of Colsh’s works, “Once Belonged,” consists of serpentine fabric silkscreened with black-and-white images of immigrants.

“She’s an artist who’s lived all over the world, moved from place to place herself and been around folks who are migrating and moving,” Sausser said.

Gessner’s works take up one wing of the gallery and show a mix of organic, three-dimensional shapes. “Leaf Walker,” for example is a vertical, multi-tiered branch with leaves that the artist built from wood, wire, paper and gouache.

“He’s working with a lot of inspiration from nature and also from the human body,” said Sausser, noting that two of Gessner’s sculptures are designed to be worn as hats. “He’s trying to create a sense of calmness and contemplative space around the work.”

Park’s artworks, such as the hanging installation “Blooming,” have an ethereal, almost cloud- or jellyfish-like appearance.

“She’s very interested in connections and using threads between different components of that installation as a metaphor for community and our connections to each other,” Sausser said.

Penhoet’s “How Many More” is a striking installation made up of earthtoned wool fiber and red waxed thread. The result, which both hangs from the ceiling and sprawls on the floor, resembles hanging vines or Spanish moss, or if one is more inclined toward animals, snakes or earthworms.

MPA’s Atrium Gallery now is showing “Trees on the Edge: Artwork in Layered Paper by Ronni Jolles.” The artist for decades has used layers of colored paper to depict myriad subjects, but this exhibit focuses on woodland scenes. Birch trees are the principal subjects and, as in nature, their textured white bark with black striations makes them stand out boldly from the background.

The show begins with “Forest Path,” featuring a trail wending through the woods, then progresses to images where some of the tree trunks act as a curtain and eventually escape their frames.

The shows run through Feb. 18 and MPA will host a conversation with the artists, either online or in person, at a date still to be determined. The exhibits also will be the subject of MPA’s annual ArtReach program, in which the organization hosts school groups and provides art education.

MPA is located upstairs at the McLean Community Center. Its Emerson Gallery is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Atrium Gallery’s hours match those of the community center.

For more information, call (703) 790-1953 or visit mpaart.org.

“Blooming” (top), by Sookkyung Park, and “Once Belonged,” by Linda Colsh, are among artworks on display now at McLean Project for the Arts.
YunKyoung Cho’s artwork “Pandemic 2020,” which depicts activities during that bleak period, is on display now at McLean Project for the Arts.
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