Sewn Together – thru April 17
by Alison Bing
April 10-16, 2003

Sew Complex

"Sewn Together" is proof positive that seamlessness is overrated, because the sewn works on display are bursting with insight, humor, and an unmistakable honesty. Too much hermetically sealed modernism and Ziploc-bagged postmodern pastiche can leave you gasping for air, but the works selected here by guest curator Laura Richard Janku provide a refreshing breather with freehand stitching, fabric that gives, and threads cut loose. Tucker Schwartz's "Sand that was the last time I saw her" is an embroidered sketch of a suburban landscape of rooftops, shrubbery and telephone poles that offers just enough information to pique the imagination, with dangling threads that suggest a dangerous tangle of telephone wires, as well as the salacious snippets of gossip that might travel through them. While Schwartz's needlework is as suggestively unfinished as her title, Anna Von Merten’s quilted "Allied Bombing of German Town/Scale Model of Germania" is eerily precise. Here a military target map for the saturation bombing of Berlin is embroidered in red atop the faint white outlines of Third Reich architect Albert Speer's blueprint for a victorious Nazi capital. The effect is visually dazzling – but just to be sure we don’t get too enraptured with the intricacies of military stratagems, Von Mertens has spread her comforter across a stiff, unyielding hospital cot as though to remind us that military victory doesn't provide much real comfort for casualties of war. Upon close inspection, Seth Koen's 3Circles #4 +12 is a puzzle: What could the red ellipse on the wall possibly have to do with the circle of red cotton stuffed with lentils? But stand in the far corner of the gallery, and Koen's puzzle becomes an eloquent Zen koan: Seen together, the circles form a puddle with a halo, or perhaps a manhole with a visible echo. This and other pieces in "Sewn Together" prompt us to take a longer look at sewing as a means of expression, and appreciate its manifold artistic merits; the next time we say an artwork looks stitched together, perhaps we should mean that as a compliment.