The new show on display at Craft in America called "Body Conscious: Southern California Fiber" seeks to examine the role Los Angeles plays as the creator of popular body image through woven and crocheted sculptures of the human body. The nine artists on display all rise to their task in different ways with some showing the inner workings of the body and other contemplating the outward forms it takes over a lifetime. Ben Cuevas' contribution entitled "Transcending the Material" is a meditation on embodiment with a highly detailed woven skeleton seated in the Lotus position under a mobile of airbrushed photographs of body parts overlaid with anatomical drawings. Here the artist is asking us to consider the differences between flawed organic bodies and the perfected images of them we see both in advertising and medical handbooks. In "Any Nine Months", Ashley V. Blalock links empty birth control pill boxes and wooden blocks together through intricately crocheted nets to discuss the changes women's bodies go through before and during pregnancy. The pill boxes are from before she got pregnant and the wooden boxes represent the nine months she was, it is a work that brings up issues of women's control over their own bodies and the choices they are entitled to or prohibited from making. Zac Monday creates lively and imaginative woven costumes and headdresses such as "Blue Witch Weeping Mask" that ask the viewer to question what counts as the body, what counts as the self. Is it our naked form or what we add on to embellish and disguise our bodies; is it the identities we put on or the masks we project that are the true us.
This show seeks to both trouble the waters around the dialogue on body image and to showcase and uplift the craft of weaving in a gallery setting. It achieves both with a simplicity and elegance that deserve praise.
Photos via the organization
Zac Monday (left), Jennifer Reifsne (right)
Ashley V. Blalock
Carrie Ann Burckle (left), Ellen Schinderman (right)