Introductory Essay by Mary Lane


Art offers us the opportunity to look at our world in new ways. Through the manipulation of materials and processes, the artist condenses her observations of the world into forms that embody emotions, ask questions and offer reflections. Unraveling the complex web of form and content that comprises any particular work reveals cognitive leaps, intuitive insights and a particular sensitivity to the artist’s chosen medium. But beyond any analysis lies a power, or presence, that defies explanation. This is the stuff of inspiration and creativity. The seemingly magical transformation of ordinary materials into extraordinary objects.


            The opportunity to examine an artist’s body of work provides insights into his thinking processes and working methods. It reveals the development of themes and the maturation of an individual voice over time. The opportunity to consider the work of four talented artists, Peter Horn (Germany), Murray Gibson (Canada), Kay Lawrence (Australia) and Joanne Soroka (Great Britain) reveals not only their individual strengths and interests, but also the diverse and multifaceted approach that marks current art making.


For all four of these artists, the physical object - the textile - with its associated set of materials and processes, is of paramount importance. Weaving is an apt metaphor for the joining of disparate parts. The technique itself defines two-dimensional space by joining the vertical with the horizontal into a grid of squares – a stable geometric form. This fundamental aspect of tapestry weaving serves this group of artists as they work with the diversity of elements inherent in collage, time travel, layering and generational and cultural research. But, despite their affinity for tapestry, curious minds follow the paths that unfold before them, and so, it comes as no surprise that many of these artists express themselves in other artistic media as well. The fit of the medium with the content of the work guides their journey.


        Tapestry has a long and illustrious history and an engagement with the past marks the work of all of these artists. Whether it is the reference to former textile practitioners, direct quotes from historical textiles, the fascination with finding textile linkages in a family genealogy or the recording of traditional dyestuffs, textile history and processes constitute an active subtext of the work.


        Creativity is often considered to involve doing something for the first time. Although notions of originality are no longer unspoiled, artists do find themselves embarking into unknown territory. This journey involves the willingness to take risks, to follow crooked paths, to break rules and to court the vagaries of chance. It is our privilege, in an exhibition such as this one, to see what they have uncovered.




“There may be nothing further…to explain, and yet everything important remains to be grasped,

even if it cannot be said.”1




Inspiration & Creativity, a project hosted jointly by the American Tapestry Alliance’s Web Exhibition and Educational Articles programs presents the work of four internationally recognized artists: Peter Horn (Germany), Murray Gibson (Canada), Kay Lawrence (Australia) and Joanne Soroka (United Kingdom). In addition to this visual presentation, each artist has generously offered his or her perspective on the creative process through an essay published as an Educational Article. My thanks go to the artists, who have created such inspirational work and have also taken the time to share their process through the written word. To read the essays, click here.

1 Danto, Arthur. Encounters and Reflections: Art in the Historical Present. New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux. 310.

Joanne Soroka

Cromarty

Murray Gibson

Penelope

Kay Lawrence

Translation (detail)

Peter Horn

Easter Island

Inspiration & Creativity

Mary Lane, Curator

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(After reading the introductory essay, click the images above or the text links at the top of the page to find out more about each of the artists and to view their work.)