looming large.Wednesday, May 27, 2009 14:12
Gowanus 2004, a work inspired by the area near my old studio installed at my alumni.
As I embark on two larger installation pieces in my own practice I am drawn to look at some artists who have braved scale while working in fiber. Sheila Pepe is by no means an emerging artist she has been an artist on the forefront of the art scene, specifically feminist art, for about 20 years. She broke boundaries as she made highly conceptual and aesthetic large scale works mostly out of crochet.
I particularly am drawn to her newest work, seen in the above images, because of its roots in the NY landscape. Specifically her work inspired by the Gowanus canal, where her studio is located. My studio is located nearby as well and I too have often been inspired by the elevated train tracks, canal locks, overpass, and industrial objects you pass along your way.
Detail from Josephine- a work inspired by her mother.
And though her work may appear abstract it is quite autobiographically driven in its inspiration
I could go on to describe Sheila’s work but when the perfect description already exists…
“Sheila Pepe makes sprawling web-like installations that playfully, elegantly, and at times eerily transform the spaces they inhabit. Combining aspects of drawing, painting, sculpture, and craft, her hybrid creations are assembled from mundane, decidedly non-art materials that could be characterized as domestic flotsam scavenged from the kitchen drawer.”
—Ashley Kistler on Under the F & G
Lap, images above and below, a large scale crochet work, made from shoelaces, inspired by Sheila’s grandfathers shoe store and her grandmothers lessons on crochet.
Pepe states :
My work has made the domestic a priority, domestic scale, situating things with either small gestures or small objects.
Come Fly with me, a work titled after Frank Sinatra’s song, made in response to 911 and titled to represent her desire to re find optimism.
Pepe describes some of her inspiration:
Then as now, Feminism is something lived everyday, and as such, lives in my work. In 1979 I was a junior in a small, Catholic, woman’s college. That year I saw Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and Eva Hesse’s Hang Up (1966). Chicago’s work was accessible and empowering; Hesse’s was riveting and inexplicable. Twinned, these works have provided the foundation for much of my work, offering models of practice, language, presenting issues of class and audience I now pursue. Around 1995 I understood that my feminism would reside in embracing the women who gave precedent to my work. As other emerging artists tied their practice exclusively to important male artists, it was clear that the historical visibility of women’s work remained contingent on this “old school” sense of solidarity… I have concentrated on amplifying connections to recognizable Feminist tropes, in an effort to sustain an intergenerational bridge.
I find Pepe’s work courageaous and it gives me the courage as an artist to dream bigger in my own work.