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[un]common threads

May 23 – July 31, 2008

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ArtNews, October 2008

by Robert Ayers

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Surface Design Journal, Spring 2009

by Patricia Malarcher

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Press Release

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased to present [un]common threads, a group exhibition featuring fourteen female artists: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Hannelore Baron, Lee Bontecou, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Lesley Dill, Nancy Grossman, Faith Ringgold, Yayoi Kusama, Annette Messager, Anne Ryan, Betye Saar, Mimi Smith, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler. Scheduled to be on view from May 23 to July 31, 2008, [un]common threads presents two and three-dimensional works where fiber and fabric - new and recycled - are the predominant media and have been knotted, layered, drawn, woven, sewed, or collaged. Despite disparate styles, influences, and intentions, the fourteen artists included in this exhibition share a heightened sensitivity to the history and expressive possibilities of textiles.

[un]common threads refuses to connect the artists and their materials solely on the basis of either gender or medium. In fact, the individualistic eccentricities of the fourteen artists make any schematic classification of their work difficult and imperfect, and it is their very ungroupability that creates the character of this ensemble. By juxtaposing extremes like Hannelore Baron's intimate box assemblages of distressed remnants or Anne Ryan's sensitive paper collages with the aggressive wall constructions of Nancy Grossman and Lee Bontecou, [un]common threads offers the versatility of a medium once reserved to craft and dismissed because of its associations with the home.

This "taint" of domesticity has been explored most notably in the pioneering work of Mimi Smith, whose Basic Black (1966) and Table and Chair (1973) use knotted string and other media to portray women's clothing as well as furniture that evokes the heart of the home - the family table. But Smith's work shares with all of the pieces in this show a keen awareness of texture, and like Magdalena Abakanowicz's (Backward) Standing Figure (1987), what remains absent in the representation is just as important as what is physically present. Overall, the works in [un]common threads confound

preconceived notions about women's art and/or textile as a medium, offering unexpected combinations like the polished bronze that rests on a base of raw silk in Barbara Chase-Riboud's Untitled: Pushkin (1985); turning the softness and lightness of fabric into weighty, spiky, almost menacing beings in Annette Messager's Replicant works; or appealing to senses other than sight by offering forms that have been stuffed, woven, knotted, painted, pierced, and sewn. This is art that begs to be touched and, in the case of the leather and jute pieces, sniffed.

In addition to the works mentioned, other contemporary highlights in the exhibition include several large-scale works by Yayoi Kusama, Lesley Dill, Lenore Tawney, and Nancy Grossman; Faith Ringgold's Weeping Woman #4 (1973-89); and collages by Betye Saar, Hannelore Baron, Anne Ryan, and Lenore Tawney.

Over the years, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has consistently championed many of the artists and sensibilities represented in [un]common threads. Two landmark exhibitions organized by the gallery were Fiber and Form: The Woman's Legacy (1996) and True Grit (2000).

Visuals available upon request.

For additional information, please contact Marjorie Van Cura at 212.247.0082 or

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