My residency at Have Company was a pivotal experience. As a painter with an interest in textiles, I was pleased to find the line between fine art and craft so blurred among artists and makers in Grand Rapids. I spent my week in the studio combining weavings with quilting to create fabric paintings that explored this closing divide.
During my residency, I was thrilled to get to work alongside some badass lady quilters including Eliza Fernand, Rose Beerhorst and, of course, Have Company's Marlee Grace Hanson. As I admire their new work from afar, I urge all you locals to go check out Quilt Mountain at Art Prize this year.
When I left Have Company, I began researching contemporary artists that are using textiles to explore the materiality of painting. What happens when a weaving or quilt is framed and hung on a white wall? Does this change the context of the piece? Are themes about gender and "women's work" still relevant in today's gallery culture? With these questions in mind, I created a series of minimalist patchwork quilts stretched like canvas.
I am currently working on a series of manipulated iPhone photographs, digitally printed on fabric with hand sewn details. Through these glitch like quilts, I comment on the balance between handwork and digital continuity. I see the dichotomy of high-tech versus high-touch processes as a way to investigate the role of textiles in today's art world.
My interest in new technologies brings me to my final note: so much of the art we view comes to us in a digital format; while social media platforms like tumblr and instagram have changed the accessibility of appreciating both fine art and craft, we shouldn't forget to get out there and experience this work in person. It is important to remember to look at work that is produced outside the digital platform in the way it was created. Go to art fairs and events like Art Prize and see shows like Quilt Mountain. Don't just "like" a photo with the click of a finger, get out there and support the arts.
Rosemary Liss was in residence at Have Company April 20 - May 2 to weave, quilt, bounce around in the sand & teach us felting as meditation. You can find her work at http://www.rosemaryliss.com/