As a material, fabric is all around us. It clothes our bodies, holds our belongings, covers our floors, decorates our windows, tables, beds and walls, and furnishes our homes and vehicles. It can contain, filter, clean, conceal, protect and comfort. Textiles are marvelously versatile and universally used, though it is exactly this convenient ubiquity that can also cause us to forget their potential as a powerful means of art making.
BEYOND MATERIAL, curated by Kate Garman, was created as an opportunity to reconsider textiles as a mode of conceptual contemporary art. The idea was born out of a curatorial proposal Garman developed while she was a student in the Visual Studies program at Grand Valley State University. Garman proposed a traveling exhibition, each iteration of which would be built around a unique theme, showcasing select artworks created by an ever-expanding pool of contemporary textile artists. Her proposal received support from an advisory group of professional curators and Garman assembled the first show, Beyond Material: Pattern’s Presence, for exhibition at GVSU’s Padnos Art Gallery in January 2014. This show explored the possibilities of pattern making with textiles. A second exhibition exploring texture, Beyond Material: Through the Surface, was on display through January and February 2015 at Scene Metrospace in East Lansing, Michigan.
Now shown in its third evolution, Beyond Material: In the Details considers the tiny details in textile art that are only obtainable by hand. From the smallest threads of delicate embroideries, to the thoughtful union of handmade paper and weavings, to the asymmetrical tension of a hand stitched tea bag quilt, the hand of the maker is prominently present in each work.
- Michael DeMaagd Rodriguez, curator