Szewc bez butów: Rugs Attack exhibition
March 12, 2010
So I keep putting up posts about Olympic medal counts for Poland and my skiing adventures domestically and internationally, but what about my art? What am I doing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź? How is my research at the Central Museum of Textiles going? The what? Exactly. I bet you didn’t even know that I sit in the archives of the textiles museum in Łódź and read about the history of contemporary textile art. I think the Polish saying, szewc bez butów is pretty appropriate here (English translation = a cobbler without shoes). I didn’t even put up pictures from the Rugs Attack exhibition I was part of in Warsaw! Although I’m not fond of the bitter aftertaste of self promotion, I would like to share this experience with you guys! The time has come. So, here are some of pictures/images from the exhibition, which happened on January 5th of this year–a little over 2 months ago (my, how the time flies!).
Skwer Gallery, Krakowskie Przedmieście 60a, Warsaw
Biomorph, metal washers joined together with elastic bands
This installation piece was completely materially-driven and its effect relied on the multiplication of a single element. Pairs of metal washers (used in building roofs) were placed face-to-face, like cymbals, and strung onto an elastic band. A harsh, man-made, industrial material–through manipulation and arrangement–was transformed into something organic, reminiscent of a form that could be found in nature.
Folk, industrially tufted rug
Professor Jolanta Rudzka Habisiak, Director of the Carpet and Gobelin Studio, is likewise Design Director at the Agnella Factory in Białystok, Poland. Her students have the rare opportunity to have their designs for rugs and carpets realized! We even got to take a field trip to Białystok (northeastern Poland) to visit the factory and to see our designs being woven/tufted! I took advantage of this opportunity as well, designing a rug to accompany the collection of woven/printed fabrics from my Polish Folk Art-inspired Degree Project at RISD.
The rug is industrially tufted: basically, there’s a netting (foundation cloth) stretched over a large frame, and a gun shoots out yarn into the netting (trimming it on its way out) according to your design. Of course, the factory’s gun is much larger than it is in this diagram… this shows a hand-tufting gun. But you get the point. It’s quite amazing to watch, actually. Your design, which is entered into a computer that controls the gun, is made before your very eyes! But not in a left-to-right way; the gun shoots out one color of yarn at a time. So, it can move up, down, diagonally, left, right, etc. depending on where that color is. Very cool.
The white design on the rug (inspired by Polish folk embroidery and lacework) is tufted in a different way: it’s made up of little knots. They have a different height in comparison to the trimmed areas, so they literally sink into the striped ground (which is inspired by the striped skirts of traditional Łowicz costumes). These changes in structure make for great texture/dimension in the rug.
Ok, I’ll get a little personal here. This exhibition was special to me as an artist/designer for three main reasons: one, it was my first international exhibit; two, it was the first time exhibiting sort of a fine-arts installation piece/carpet design; and three (most importantly), it was the first time I had so many family members come to support me! You see, since my parents immigrated from Poland, they left behind everyone they knew, including their entire families. I really only had one extended family member around when I was growing up–Ciocia Teresa (mom’s sister), who lives in New York. (Ciocia [chyo-chya] is Polish for aunt.) The rest of my family was/is in Poland!! Of course I visited them, and they visited us, but it’s not the same. Anyway, this was the first time I could invite them to an exhibition–or any sort of occasion for that matter–and actually expect to see them there! So, when 12 family members showed up, I literally cried. For once in my life, I felt like I had a big family–which I do, but never realized before. And if you know me, you definitely know how important my family is to me.
Since the exhibition was in Warsaw, obviously more of my dad’s side of the family showed up: my grandma; my aunt, Ciocia Ewa; my grandma’s sister (Ciocia Irena) and her husband (Wujek Czesiek); their son Piotr, his wife Renata, and their twin boys Michał and Paweł; my grandma’s sister-in-law Ciocia Danusia, her daughter Beata and husband Sławek. And to make it twelve: my aunt on my mom’s side, Ciocia Ania, traveled all the way from Częstochowa to come to the opening!!
It meant a lot to me to have Ciocia Danusia come to my show. She’s an incredible hand-embroiderer/knitter/crochet-er, etc. etc. And she worked in the National Museum in Warsaw for years on textile conservation, even restoring General Piłsudski’s coat, which is on exhibit at the National Museum in Kraków. She even got a stay in Wawel Castle out of it! And yes, if you were wondering, she liked my work (especially Biomorph). 🙂
Here are more pieces from the show:
Above, below: both by Agnieszka Chowaniec
Carpet Module by Anna Szydłowska
Laser-cut concrete blocks by Magda Zygmuntowska
Hand-crocheted by Anna Dreszer
Cut felt and metal circles by Aleksandra Kiszka
Mats by Anna Borowska, Axminster rug by Magda Zygmuntowska
Above, below: felt and glass tiles by Dominika Cedzyńska
Gold chain by Magdalena Szyszka
Cut felt tablecloth and rug by Paulina Żukowska
Assistant Dean of the Department of Textiles and Apparel, Prof. dr hab. Zbigniew Dudek, Assistant of the Carpet and Gobelin Studio Izabela Walczak, Director of the Agnella Factory, Professor Jolanta Rudzka Habisiak, Anna Borowska, Magdalena Szyszka, Joanna Podkowa, me
All in all, the opening night of the exhibition was a huge success. There were so many people there! It was truly a wonderful experience.