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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Pastoral landscapes and quiet domestic scenes stitched into vintage textiles envelop Ulla-Stina Wikander’s needlepoint sculptures. Using rotary phones, kitchen appliances, or an antique gramophone as her foundation, Wikander (previously) molds the cross-stitch works around her chosen object, cloaking it in a blanket of color and texture while preserving its original shape. Multiple facets of domestic life intersect in the revitalized pieces, which bring the age-old craft traditionally associated with home decoration and items commonly found in kitchens and garages together into reinterpreted forms.
Splitting her time between Stockholm and Kullavik, Wikander shares that she’s started to work with sports equipment and more elaborate tools, which you can see on Instagram. You can browse her available works at Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery, and see her pieces in person through August 6 at Jane Lombard Gallery in New York and at M Contemporary Gallery in Sydney in the coming months.
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Whimsical tendrils of vines, foliage, wisteria, and chrysanthemums sprout from artist Ian Berry’s wild, overgrown garden plots. Densely assembled and often suspended from the ceiling, his recurring “Secret Garden” is comprised of blooms and leafy plants created entirely from recycled denim, producing immersive spaces teeming with indigo botanicals in various washes and fades.
Since its debut at the New York Children’s Museum of the Arts, Berry’s site-specific installation has undergone a few iterations. “The first one was made with children in mind… hence the more magical secret garden angle,” he says, “just wanting to (ensure they think about) where the material comes from, see what they can make, and seek out outdoor places within a city.” It’s since traveled to London, Barcelona, The Netherlands, France, Kentucky, and the San Francisco Flower Mart, where it’s permanently installed as a trellis lining the space’s windows.
The initial installation sourced damaged bolts from Cone Denim, specifically its now-shuttered White Oak Mill in North Carolina, which is known for its dedication to transparent cotton sourcing and commitment to using less water. Although much of Berry’s works recycle discarded jeans, jackets, and materials that are unusable for garments and employ environmentally conscious companies like Tonello to wash and laser the vines, sustainability is an ancillary element of his practice.
Instead, the East London-based artist focuses on generating a broader conversation about the ways communities change over time and a hope that people will find magic where it’s not necessarily expected. “The piece was born out of the idea that in New York, many children would grow up without a garden, and as much of my work is about the community in urban environments,” he shares. “I wanted afterwards for the parents and children to go and seek them out—and they did.”
“Secret Garden” is on view as part of Berry’s solo show Splendid Isolation, which is up through August 15 at Museum Rijswijk in the Hague, The Netherlands. In October, his work is headed to the Textil Museet in Sweden, where it’ll be until May 2022. Explore a larger collection of his textile-based floral pieces on his site and Instagram.
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Scent, memory, and emotion are inextricably bound together in the human brain, making it possible that a single sniff evokes feelings of delight, comfort, and calm associated with an experience. Pallavi Padukone uses this inherent connection in Reminiscent, a series of 11 fiber-based works infused with naturally derived fragrances, all of which the textile artist and designer equates with her hometown of Bangalore, India.
Part aromatherapy and part nostalgic stimulus, the fiber pieces hang from the ceiling as delicate, sheer curtains that are accessible from all sides. Padukone weaves and embroiders using thread that’s covered in a wax-and-resin substance she developed through trial-and-error. “The testing phase for the coated yarn involved sampling weave structures and embroidery techniques that were best suited for the yarn. I kept a record of swatches as a test of their durability and how long the scent and color last when exposed to heat and light,” she says.
Infused with clove, vetiver, jasmine, citronella, sandalwood, or rose, the cotton yarns also are hand-dyed naturally, pulling out the golden color of turmeric and rusty tones from cutch and beets to pair with a corresponding aroma. “It’s ironic that I happened to choose scent during a time when wearing masks is the new normal,” Padukone tells Colossal. “While the beauty of olfactory art is that it has to be experienced in person, I use textiles, patterning, and color as a way to visually represent my depiction of the fragrance’s personality.” A yellow and green patchwork, for example, emits the grassy, lemon-like aroma of citronella, while sweet, musky sandalwood is paired with thick, abstract coils of yarn on sepia-toned silk.
Although the scents are embedded in many of the works, tiny accessible pockets cover the undyed organza in “Jasmine II,” ensuring Padukone can replace the flower buds. She’s currently exploring other methods that allow replenishment considering most fragrances last between one and three months. The transience of sent, though, is part of its appeal. She explains:
I find beauty in impermanence and how each textile’s color, structure, fragrance changes over time. In this collection, I have incorporated handspun recycled sari silk and cotton for my weaves and embroider on organza silk. I am drawn to the sheerness of the fabric, the way it interacts with light to visually evoke the ephemeral experience of fragrance.
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Whether a corded rotary phone or humble water pitcher, Sue Trevor’s household objects are all made from the same materials. The artist meticulously stitches ornamental sculptures that resemble common domestic items and vintage electronics. Covered in crisscrossed seams and textured rows, each piece is a product of combining embroidery, appliqué, and quilting techniques, and the resulting jewel-toned works are heavily adorned with flowers and other organic forms, shapes she derives directly from her garden in Loughborough, Leicestershire.
Prior to sewing the objects from hand-dyed Egyptian cottons and silks, Trevor studies the film camera or teacup and saucer she’s replicating and creates a pattern. She then “manipulates my heavily embroidered 2D pieces of fabric into sculptural 3D works of art, testing and trialing until I have the desired shape I want. I love the challenge of trying to dissect the structure of an object and translating it into one of my textile pieces.”
Peruse Trevor’s available sculptures on Etsy and Folksy, and see more of her work, which includes an array of functional and decorative pieces, on Instagram. You also might enjoy Ulla Stina-Wikander’s needlepoint tools and devices.
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A new menagerie of polar bears, stags, and kangaroos resemble typical wildlife except for the fact that they’re literally swept under the carpet, their features hidden from view. These towering sculptural forms are by artist Debbie Lawson (previously), who crafts animals that are cloaked in sweeping Persian rugs. Rather than being camouflaged by a forest, jungle, or snow-covered Arctic, Lawson’s creatures boldly protrude from the fabric and loom over the viewer.
In her process, Lawson sculpts the animals from a combination of chicken wire and masking tape. She then layers luscious carpets across them, creating the illusion that these animals are about to jump, walk, and prance out of the fabric. This method is derived from what Lawson describes as her ability to spot hidden images in floors, textured walls, and various patterns, an interest that’s mirrored in her perspective-altering sculptures that appear to leap out from the gallery’s walls.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.