Chicago-based artist Jacqueline Surdell sutures lengths of rope, fabric, and silky ribbons into sprawling abstract tapestries that hang from walls and standalone armatures in textured, colorful masses. Swelling clusters of knots and ties, loose weaves, braided tunnels, and dangling strands compose her three-dimensional compositions that are disrupted by sporadically used items like steel chains, volleyballs, and polyester shower curtains. Because of the scale of the pieces and the hefty materials, the artist often uses her body as a shuttle to weave the brightly colored fibers together on massive hand-built looms.
Surdell embeds parts of her Chicago upbringing in her wall sculptures, especially childhood memories of her grandmother’s landscape paintings and her grandfather’s job in South Side steel mills. These two experiences converge in her textured works by evoking vast terrains and the city’s industrial history through her use of commercial materials. Each piece offers further reflections on today’s world, with energetic and chaotic pieces like “We Will Win: Our Banner in the Sky” (shown above) responding to the fraught political landscape in the U.S. and destructive events like wildfires and loss of coral reefs sparked by the climate crisis.
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Birthday presents, apparel decoration, hair-do accessories: this is what comes to mind when most people think of ribbons. But for Japanese duo Baku Maeda and Toru Yoshikawa of Ribbonesia, the ubiquitous material is fodder for multi-part sculptures. Ranging from colorful cactus gardens and floral landscapes to freestanding foxes and ceremonial dragons, Ribbonesia’s creations blur the lines between art and craft. In their artist statement, the duo explains their approach to the unusual material: “Just as a painter would use hundreds of brush strokes, ribbon forms can also be made from a variety of twists, bends and folds. They become paintings as much as they are sculptures.”
Working in tandem since 2010 as Ribbonesia, Maeda is the artist of the pair, and Yoshikawa the creative director developing the theme and concept. You can explore more of their in-progress and completed projects on Instagram and Facebook.
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