Drexel University’s Leonard Pearlstein Gallery is currently featuring ‘Warp + Weft’ – work by 2015 Pew Fellow in the Arts Caroline Lathan-Stiefel.
Here’s a preview of her work. See it in person until Dec. 4.
Lathan-Stiefel explained typically she does not work by a specific process. She mentions enjoying her work in piecemeal – spreading on the floor the potential bits for each piece of art.
When asked if language played a role in the creation process, she agreed – in some like ‘Ennead’ there was a presence of language, but not necessarily tied to a specific meaning. The artistic process could include writing words, loosely, repeatedly, until setting on a word that translates into fabric.
The choice to suspend her work? Inspiration was drawn from Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, and the unfinished construction of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain and his suspended model for this building. Gaudi favored the natural world, tending to favor sinewy materials such as wood, muscle and tendon – organic models, he took his inspiration from nature and his religion.
Lathan-Stiefel too, pursued the aesthetic of an organic form in her choice to suspend much of her art. Allowing gravity to affect the form presenting itself almost as if ‘monumental’ but at the same time delicate, with non-traditional materials interwoven throughout the piece. The suspension then becomes part of the piece, the straight hanging lines contrast against the strings incorporated in the piece itself.
The subject of color draws the recognition of true importance from the artist. Lathan-Stiefel talks of liking to make and apply rules for particular pieces, highlighting specific color relationships to start, often working with different shades of color within the piece and then at the end, adding an unanticipated pop of color.
Construction time varies. Certain pieces can take over a year to come together – often times this results from their derivative of a specific story or a narrative that could be described as ‘open-ended poetry’.
In her piece ‘Slant of light,’ inspiration is derived from the likes of late poet Emily Dickinson. The piece which features a new material element, neon, could be interpreted as “a winter afternoon or a feeling of oppression,” said Lathan-Stiefel. “Invoking a reoccurring but never quite the same type of wonder.”
Unique to this exhibition, is the introduction of neon. Lathan-Stiefel decided to incorporate this element and originally made the neon component with fabric before employing the help of neon artist Eve Hoyt.
New experiences working with steel and sculpture, from welding to soldering cast pipe cleaners to induce a wax element, Lathan-Stiefel aimed to continue her artistic exploration through new techniques, materials and concepts.
To learn more about Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Warp + Weft visit: http://drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery/exhibitions-events/upcoming-exhibitions/
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