Domesticated over five thousand years ago, the production of cotton today equals forty billion pounds per year. From photographic x-ray film and nail polish to bologna casings and book bindings, cotton is everywhere and is in everything. While we can find it in a vast number of products and processes that create the world we see today, its ubiquity also implicates cotton in a darker history that asks deeper questions about the impact this plant has had on our world. According to Stephen Yafa’s, Cotton, The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber, “No other plant ignited a civil war that sent more American men to their deaths than all other wars combined.”
The Artaversaries is a group of Minnesotan artists who formed in 2012 after meeting during Altered Esthetics’ Solo Exhibition Program. The heart of the Artaversaries is based in the nature of their relationship. The artists saw that their collaborative relationship allowed them to build connections across artistic disciplines and exhibit work in a variety of media. This creates a unique opportunity to challenge creative boundaries and question popular definitions of art. As the artists and their work grow and develop along with their knowledge of each other, the Artaversaries hold exhibitions of new work based on the theme of traditional anniversary gifts.
In 2013 at Echo Arts Gallery, The Artaversaries exhibited a series of work based on the theme of paper at their first annual exhibition, Paper (Ex) Change. The exhibition engaged viewers with a variety of interactive activities, challenging their audience and themselves to create collaborative relationships through art. December 2014, brings The Artaversaries artists together to create an interactive exhibition based on the second anniversary theme, cotton. Julia Helen Rice, Katie Parr, Kate Renee, Margaret M. Gamache, Mark Elton, Marnie Erpestad, and Mary Foote will be exhibiting together in the exhibition, The Common Thread. The Franklin Arts Center in Brainerd, Minnesota will host the Artaversaries.
The Artaversaries will be examining the political, feminist, social, and utilitarian effects cotton has played in our history by probing questions through their interactive exhibition. Foote, Renee and Gamache all utilize cotton to discuss the roles of women and feminist topics. Gamache’s other piece alongside Rice’s installation has a more global and revolutionary tone through their work about the history of cotton picking, plantations and effects of cotton on our environment. Parr, Elton and Erpestad all use cotton as a medium in their work and demonstrates how this product can be utilized by artists today. This exhibition seeks to provide a wide discussion on how cotton is woven into our global history and plays a current role in society today through their exhibition, The Common Thread.
Katie Parr (www.katieparr.com) Parr will be exhibiting a sculptural piece that is formed with naturally dyed cotton fabric and the technique of braiding to create a space the viewer must interact with within the gallery space. Parr emphasizes the repetitive act of braiding and its relation to the repetitive nature of domestic activities.
Kate Renee (www.katerenee.com) Renee’s installation, Dirty Laundry, will center on the idea of the secrets we hide from ourselves and the world. Her work will use white cotton undergarments with hand-stitched messages in cotton embroidery thread which will hang on a clothing line in the gallery space. Her piece will be interactive as she asks the viewer to participate in airing out some of their own “dirty laundry” and hanging it on display.
Mary Foote (www.maryfooteartist.com) Foote will be creating a dress reflecting on the binding effect of motherhood based on her role as both a caretaker and an artist. She will ask viewers to help construct and deconstruct the dress as well as add their own thoughts about motherhood.
Margaret M. Gamache (http://www.mnartists.org/artistHome.do?rid=174413) Gamache’s digital collage work emphasizes the use of cotton in the lives of women. Gamache uses color to represent five decades of sanitary product use in her piece, Cotton the Fabric of most of Her Life.
Marnie Erpestad (marnieerpestad.wordpress.com) Erpestad will be printing photographic images of film cameras on cotton fabric, investigating the impact of cotton in the world's ability to see itself in photographs and movies.
Julia Helen Rice (http://juliahelenrice.blogspot.com/) Rice’s temporary tenting structure, Gossypium, struggles with the question, why is it so difficult for us to change our industrialized, consumer society despite the overwhelming evidence of the environmental destruction and climate change wrought by this society? She used the history of cotton as a starting point to investigate why we allow exploitation and despoliation to occur, despite knowing the realities of our industrialized society. Her sculptural installation piece was previously featured as an outdoor sculpture at Tuck Under Projects in Minneapolis, MN.
Mark Elton (http://markelton.tumblr.com/) Elton will be utilizing re-purposed cotton t-shirts as a medium to create pieces that discuss the relationship between the holidays and depression. Using the artwork itself as a doorway to an infinite canvas, his work will be a fusion of traditional media and transmedia storytelling.
The exhibition will be up December 2014 and is located at:
Franklin Arts Center
Resident Artist Gallery
1001 Kingwood St,
Brainerd, MN 56401
The exhibition runs December 6th - December 27th 2014
Opening reception is on Friday, December 5th from 5:00 - 9:00 PM
For more information, please contact:
Email: [email protected]