3: Patricia Dahlman, Robyn Ellenbogen, Julie McHargue

Julie McHargue

Julie McHargue

Robyn Ellenbogen

Robyn Ellenbogen

Patricia Dahlman

Patricia Dahlman

“3: Patricia Dahlman, Robyn Ellenbogen, Julie McHargue” is an

exhibition made up of artists that use sewing in their art work. It is curated

by Arthur Bruso and Raymond E. Mingst, the curators of Curious Matter.

The exhibition is at Art House Productions at 136 Magnolia Ave. in the

Journal Square section of Jersey City, New Jersey. The exhibition will be

up through September 20, 2015. Gallery hours are Sundays noon to 3 or

by appointment 201-915-9911. One of my works that is included, “Figure

in Red” was made during my studio residency at Gallery Aferro. For more

information about the exhibition go to http://www.arthouseproductions.org

The exhibition 3: Patricia Dahlman, Robyn Ellenbogen, Julie McHargue,

goes against the current towards glistening, corporatized fabrication. It is

not only an appreciation for the handmade in art, but a paean to

craftsmanship. Patricia Dahlman uses sewing as another way to draw. “I

sew marks with thread that one might make using pencil or paint. I like the

surface, light and the feel of an embroidery that you get in a sewn

drawing.” Her large hanging fabric sculpture, “Figure in Red,” harkens to

a three-dimensional Stuart Davis painting. The colored shapes are

ostensibly figurative, but it is the relationships of the colored shapes as they

move in space that is the true idea of the piece. In talking about her use of

materials Dahlman says, “I want to get to the idea rather than deal with a

more complicated working process such as welding or making ceramics.”

Robyn Ellenbogen’s “Particular and Absolute” is as much an

environment as a sculpture. Its cloud of multi-colored circle modules of

sewn paper, hanging in the air, forms a dense, kinetic energy. Like the

color interactions of Hans Hofmann, their presence changes the energy of

the space and our perception of the environment. For Ellenbogen, “the

sewn paper constructions evolved as a means of experimenting with the

light.” Family tradition also inspired her interest in sewing as a medium.

“My mom was a stellar seamstress and her interest in sewing dresses

introduced me to a rich world of textiles and tactile sensation.”

Julie McHargue learned Appalachian traditions of sewing and quilting

from her grandmother. “I would spend weekends with [her] as a child. She

would show me how to make patterns, sew doll clothes and piece together

quilt patterns from tiny scraps of fabric. Her house was small and simple in

a rural community of around 500 people. She came from the hills of

Kentucky and raised 12 children. She taught me…the depression era mind

set of using everything and wasting nothing. When I sew I feel her and my

heritage.” McHargue’s series of six fabric panels wed Folk Art tradition

with the compositional and color brevity of Kazimir Malevich. Each panel

stands alone as an elegant work, but as a series it is possible to trace the

progress of the theme as it expands and contracts from one panel to the

next. This creates an active, living work.

Dahlman, Ellenbogen and McHargue create potent works that celebrate

the artist’s hand and stretch our ideas of what can be achieved through

sewing and the sewn line. While their work transcends the domestic realm,

we also attest that it honors the significance of the traditions from which

they draw. Sewing, quilting, crochet are enmeshed in our histories and

women have most often safeguarded this heritage. Through their art

practices, Dahlman, Ellenbogen and McHargue assert the value of the craft

in their work and point a way to the future of these traditions as expressed

through contemporary art.

Arthur Bruso and Raymond E. Mingst

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