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"Extra/ordinary: Fiber Artists Rethinking Art and Everyday Life"
2005-05-23 until 2005-07-09
Cube at Beco
Kansas City, MO, USA United States of America

The exhibition Extra/ordinary: fiber artists rethinking art and everyday life spotlights the work of contemporary artists interested in critically approaching the history and meanings of fiber arts as they relate to politics, pop culture, sexuality, and identity issues. In media ranging from embroidery to installation, the artists of Extra/ordinary recognize the potential of fiber arts to transform the ordinary into something surprising, subversive, and poignant.

Since the Industrial Revolution began blurring the lines between industry and handicraft, as well as the upper- and lower-classes, artists have subsequently taken great pleasure in using such developments to similarly dissolve the centuries-old barriers that once separated the avant-garde and mass culture, masterpiece and kitsch, art and everyday life. In the process, artists have not only recognized the meaningful role of “the ordinary” in their art practices, but asked audiences to recognize their own ordinary surroundings and actions as meaningful—revealing the extraordinary potential of the ordinary.

From swaddling to shroud, fiber arts literally surround us from the cradle to the grave—and, as such, are arguably those most taken for granted even as they contain tremendous meaning. While they have been denigrated as “domestic” and personal, their role in everything from sumptuary laws to labor struggles reminds us that fiber arts are also both public and political.

Extra/ordinary builds on this history of fiber arts. Participating artists from across North America include Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch, Orly Cogan, Wanda Ewing, Michelle Fried, Bean Gilsdorf, Jenny Hart, Maggy Rozycki Hiltner, Wendy Huhn, Whitney Lee, Lauren McEntire, Allyson Mitchell, Mark Newport, Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, Ann-Marie Rounkle, and Two Girls Working: Tiffany Ludwig + Renee Piechocki.

Extra/ordinary will be on view as part of the Thirteenth International Surface Design Association Conference, Uncovering the Surface. Exhibition curator Maria Elena Buszek is Assistant Professor of Art History at the Kansas City Art Institute. Her writing on art and popular culture has appeared in such journals as Art in America, TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, and Woman’s Art Journal. Dr. Buszek is also a regular contributor to Review and the popular feminist ‘zine, Bust: The Voice of the New Girl Order. Her forthcoming book, Pin-up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture will be published by Duke University Press later this year.

Whitney Lee

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