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Spin A Yarn

November 10, 2023 - March 15, 2024


Claudia Alarcón (Wichí La Puntana community, Argentina, b. 1989)

Claudia Alarcón is a textile artist from the La Puntana community of the Wichí people of northern Salta, Argentina. Working with Silät, a collective of hundreds of weavers, Alarcón preserves ancestral Wichí textile traditions of knitting and often employs chaguar, a native vegetable fiber used to make clothing, hammocks, and ceremonial objects. In Tewok Tes P'ante, Alarcón uses recycled nylon fibers to depict the creation myth of the Chaco forest, in which all life was once contained in a yuchán tree until a spirit struck a great dorado fish with a spear, thereby releasing the waters and disrupting world harmony. Alarcón recasts Wichí textile traditions and iconography to address the shifting dynamics between indigenous communities and the plastics threatening the marine environment.


Olga de Amaral (Colombia, b. 1932)

Olga de Amaral lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia. Spanning a period of more than sixty years, de Amaral’s artistic production ranges from flat tapestries to three-dimensional fiber sculptures. De Amaral engages the rigor and simplicity of the modernist grid, developing her own tools and techniques, often relying on a vertical knotting system that references ancient quipus. In Tierra y Oro #5, de Amaral uses strips of knotted woven horsehair and linen tipped with gold leaf that suggest pre-Columbian culture as well its colonial exploitation. Her hanging tapestries and floating formations transform interiors, expanding her artistic expression beyond traditional surfaces and into architectural structures.


Tony Bechara (Puerto Rico, b. 1941)

The New York–based Puerto Rican–born artist Tony Bechara challenges concepts of the grid and geometric abstraction through his color-saturated paintings. Influenced by Middle Eastern, European, and Navajo textile patterning, Bechara has created a field of physical perception with meticulously painted multicolored quarter-inch squares. In Lacerta (1979) and Lyra (1980), Bechara's precise color choices and gridding techniques create a dynamic and kinetic tension within the composition. Reminiscent of woven surfaces, they appear logically programmed yet seemingly random. The painting’s surface is divided into a multitude of small modular boxes similar to pixels, presenting the viewer with a playful and invigorating optical surface.  


Chonon Bensho (Shipibo-Konibo community, Peru, b. 1992)

Chonon Bensho is an indigenous artist from the Shipibo-Konibo people in Santa Clara de Uchunya, in the Peruvian Amazon. Descended from a long line of onanyabos, traditional healers known for their knowledge of medicinal plants and healing ceremonies, Bensho explores her ancestral knowledge in embroidered works that often depict Shipibo myths and everyday life. In Wai (2023), Bensho portrays community members planting and harvesting crops of corn, yuca, and papaya, emphasizing their ties to the Amazonian land. Depicting kené—a traditional geometric design based on Shipibo shamanistic visions—Bensho's embroidered landscape calls for a spiritual connection to the land and protection of the Amazonian ecosystem.


Carlos Castro Arias (Colombia, b. 1976)

Born in Bogotá, Carlos Castro Arias recontextualizes historic imagery and materials to depict contemporary events. In the tapestry La Gran Narco Arca, Castro Arias presents the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar leading exotic animals out of the plane used for drug trafficking toward his zoo, Villa Napoli. Seen as a modern-day depiction of the biblical story of Noah’s ark, the illustrated scene also evokes medieval tapestries here reproduced digitally and manufactured for the mass market. Through a deft manipulation of antique mediums, Castro Arias offers a thought-provoking commentary on cultural intersections and historical symbolism.

Feliciano Centurión (Paraguay, b. 1962 - Argentina, d. 1996)

Born in 1962 in Paraguay’s subtropical rainforest region, Feliciano Centurión was brought up by his mother, who taught knitting, crocheting, and embroidery at a local school. An openly gay man in the ultraconservative Paraguayan society, then under General Alfredo Stroessner’s repressive dictatorship, Centurión relocated to Buenos Aires in 1980. There he began producing works using blankets, pillows, aprons, and other household wares embellished with delicate embroidery and crochet, frequently depicting mythical beings and the wildlife and lush vegetation of his native Paraguayan region. After his diagnosis with HIV/AIDS, Centurión began incorporating references to his illness, sexuality, and imminent death and created knitted and crocheted clothes for plastic animals and action figures. The series Familia consists of commonly found toys shrouded in sweaters and skirts. These works symbolize the protective familial bonds that connect Centurión’s chosen family, the gay community, at risk of oblivion amid the AIDS epidemic.


DETEXT (Spain, b.1981)

DETEXT is an online collective known for its use of found texts—such as personal ads, Viagra spam, and political propaganda—to examine white male identity. Named for its colloquial name among law enforcement, Widowmaker (2020-2022) is one in an ongoing series of hand-woven rugs made with spent bullet casing sourced throughout the world. Somewhere between a forensic investigation and a form of geopolitical cartography, the series traces the origin and international circulation of ammunition across the globe and in this particular case, the United States gun industry’s evolution of bullet sizes. 9mm bullets were used by law enforcement until the 1990s, when they were taken out of rotation for not killing suspects quickly enough. Now used primarily in shooting ranges, Widowmaker speaks to the high-power calibers used in law enforcement today.


Jorge Eielson (Peru, b. 1924 - d. 2006)

An accomplished, multifaceted artist, poet, and writer, Jorge Eielson first rose to prominence as part of the Peruvian literary movement known as Generation 1950 and was an active member of the avant-garde communities not only in his native Peru but also in Paris, Rome, and New York. He is best known for his Quipus series, an exploration of material, form, and communication he began in 1963. In works such as Rotazione XV and Amazzonia, Eielson reinterprets ancient quipus, a recordkeeping system devised by the pre-Columbian Inca of Peru. Piramide di stracci features a pyramid made of swimsuits and a photograph of the Sardinian painter Michele Mulas with his family. Eielson compares this pyramid to the pharaoh Cheops’ Great Pyramid at Giza, a timeless object whose temporality is tied to its content. The remnants of sea salt, sand, and Mediterranean light encapsulate the spirit of the family's beach visit.


Mónica Giron (Argentina, b. 1959)

An Argentine artist from the southernmost tip of the Patagonia region, Mónica Giron creates works that explore the environment and human relationships to their surroundings. In Ajuar para un conquistador, a multipart work, Giron knitted anatomically correct suits for endangered birds in Patagonia, based on drawings sourced from a 1984 birding guide, Las aves argentinas, published by Argentina’s national parks administration. This ongoing project references Argentina’s national wool economy and the vulnerability of Patagonia’s abundant avian life. The notable absence from the suits of the birds themselves is also a meditation on the loss of indigenous wildlife and communities as a result of Spanish colonization and the region’s development.


Sonia Gomes (Brazil, b. 1948)

The Afro-Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes creates sculptural objects from textiles and found materials, using secondhand textiles. In this untitled work from the series Lugar para um corpo, Gomes invites viewers to explore multiple points of view, compelling them to move around the space. While her forms are not figurative, Gomes’s use of clothing calls to mind the absence and presence of bodies. As the artist explains, she “brings the history of the people that they belonged to,” adding, “I give a new significance to them.” Her assemblages thus tie Brazil’s historical trajectory to the long-disregarded narratives of women, people of color, and countless anonymous individuals.


Sheila Hicks (USA, b. 1934)

Sheila Hicks is a pioneering American fiber artist, renowned for her experimental approach to weaving. Following her studies at Yale under the instruction of Anni and Josef Albers, she embarked on extensive travels throughout Chile and Mexico, where she immersed herself in the regions’ rich textile traditions. During these trips she began working on her series of small weavings called Minimes, including Hand of Good (made in Mexico in 1960). Sometimes made with simple wood frames, backstrap looms, or portable looms, these small-scale experiments register the weaving skills and personal experiences that Hicks developed as she traveled, as well as the profound impact of Latin American textile traditions on her oeuvre.


Jessie Homer French (USA, b 1940)

Jessie Homer French is a self-taught, self-proclaimed “regional narrative painter.” Drawing on folk tradition in Westside Fault Zones Mapestry, Homer French reinterprets California Geological Survey maps, including natural subjects and local wildlife in Southern California neighborhoods affected by fault lines. Reflecting on the impact of potential environmental disasters on society and nature, Homer French explores the vulnerability of populated areas such as those in Beverly Hills where temperature fluctuations, increased seismic frequency, and human-made environmental disasters have converged.


Huari (700-1000 CE)

The Huari Empire dominated the south-central highlands and the west coastal regions of what is now Peru from AD 600 to 1000. Named after their major city, the Huari produced some of the most vibrant, intricate, and technically complex textiles in art history. Using the fibers of Andean camelids such as alpaca and llama as well as cotton and exotic bird feathers from the Amazon rainforest, artists developed a unique style characterized by grid-based designs and highly abstract imagery. Transcending their use as attire, textiles were highly prized and played a fundamental role in the daily lives and religious ceremonies of the Huari, serving as indicators of rank and status. They were sometimes used as gifts to establish diplomatic ties with neighboring groups. Four-cornered hats like this were likely worn by high-ranking men as symbols of power and status.


Randolpho Lamonier (Brazil, b. 1988)

Randolpho Lamonier was born in Contagem, an industrial city in the suburbs of Belo Horizonte. Created amid the rise of the far-right movement in Brazil, EXÉRCITO QUEER belongs to Lamonier’s text-based quilt series Profecias (Prophecies). Rather than referring to the widespread violence against and growing repression of queer and indigenous individuals, the artist presents an alternative future in the title of the work. Made with found garments in bright colors, Lamonier’s Profecias echo the traditions of making protest banners and quilts that memorialize people who lost their lives to AIDS.


Julio Le Parc (Argentina, b. 1928)

Best known for his contributions to Kinetic art, Julio Le Parc was born in Mendoza, Argentina in 1928. His family relocated to Buenos Aires during his youth, during a period of political unrest in the country specifically targeting artists and intellectuals. Following his education at Escuela de Bellas Artes and involvement in Arte Concreto-Invención, Le Parc moved to Paris, where he began his innovations in light, movement, and perception. In 1959 Le Parc began creating his signature geometric paintings that systematized shapes and color to give the appearance of motion. Catorce Colores Doble Traslación (Fourteen Colors Double Motion, 1959) is a painting from this period of exploration by Le Parc. Repeating vertical shapes in a rainbow gradient occupy the slender, horizontal surface of the work. While not a textile, similarities are seen in the seriality of the work, pointing to the ways textiles were precursors to modern art.  In 1966, Le Parc received the Grand Prize in Painting at the 33rd Venice Biennale. In 2016, Le Parc was the subject of his first solo museum exhibition in North America, “Form in Action,” which opened at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.


Dubreus Lherisson (Haiti, b. 1971)

Haitian artist Dubreus Lherisson was born in Cap-Haitian and moved at a young age to Port-au-Prince, where he still lives today. As a child, Lherisson was introduced to Voodoo religion in the temple led by Tiboute, a well-known priest in Haiti. Tiboute taught Lherisson to make traditional Voodoo flags, typically used during street processions. Upon Tiboute’s death, Lherisson took over his flag workshop. Recognized as a leading artist in the community, Lherisson continues to create and sell other Voodoo-related objects and art, including Voodoo flags and highly decorated found objects such as human skulls, bones, and children’s toys. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti inspired the usage of recycled materials, reflected in Blue Princess (2018), made from a found doll and fabric.


Mónica Millán (Argentina, b. 1960)

For more than two decades Mónica Millán has worked with women embroiderers from the Paraguayan town of Yataity del Guirà, home to the delicate Guaraní weaving technique known as ao po’i, which translates as “fine cloth.” The eighteen textile panels from the series Inventar la piel are rooted in the artist’s desire to preserve and honor the domestic embroidery heritage and way of life associated with ao po’i. Millan draws on a visual archive of Paraguayan folk attire originally depicted by nineteenth-century European travelers during ethnographic trips. These are here reinterpreted by the Guaraní themselves based on the artist’s sketches. Inviting the weavers to revisit and reinvent these depictions of indigenous people idealized by colonial counterparts, Millan empowers their descendants to take back the right to self-expression. 


Manfred Mohr (Germany, b. 1938)

Manfred Mohr is a pioneer of digital art using computer-generated algorithmic geometry. P-159-B is an early example of Mohr’s innovation in combining geometric abstraction and software coding with a clear and methodical underlying structure, created from algorithms that describe a defined system. Mohr created these algorithms on a CDC 6400 computer and then transferred them to a Benson 1284 plotter, resulting in the sequences being embroidered onto various surfaces. In the case of this work, the sequence was transferred to a punch card. P-159-B is a tight-knit grid filled with abstract threaded glyphs occurring in an irregular pattern. Mohr’s work underscores the relationship between textiles and mathematical computer programming.


Sandra Monterroso (Guatemala, b. 1974)

Born during the decades-long Guatemalan civil war, Sandra Monterroso began creating art in 1999 as a means of reviving her country’s indigenous history. In her most recent series, Monterroso employs traditional Maya practices such as plant dyeing and weaving techniques to challenge colonialist attitudes and shed light on the exploitation of indigenous women. In Volviendo al punto de partida, Monterroso manipulates the traditional female hair bands, tocoyals, which she found at graves of victims of the Guatemalan genocide. By placing them alongside two knives with the phrases “Tra(d)iciones” (Tra(d)itions/betrayals) and “Es mas fácil cortarlo que desatarlo” (It is easier to cut it than to untie it), Monterroso criticizes the violence that has devastated her country’s indigenous population. 


Mulyana (Indonesia, b. 1984)

The Indonesian artist Mulyana crochets and knits intricate mural installations that recall ocean habitats. Centering on the theme of sustainability and human resources, he sees the act of knitting as a methodically slow process, in contrast to the fast-paced contemporary world. In Betty 10, Mulyana reused plastic bags to represent dying coral reefs, which turn white because of the lack of nutrients in warmer ocean waters. This installation serves as a poignant counterpoint to his more vibrant coral installations and as a metaphor for the beautiful yet fragile diversity of the coral reefs confronting the precarious future of underwater ecosystems.


Anna Perach (Ukraine, b. 1985)

Anna Perach is an Israeli textile artist based in London. Perach’s works are created through tufting, a technique utilized primarily for creating warm garments and thick carpets. Her sculptures are a combination of personal and cultural myths interrogating notions of femininity and heritage. Intended primarily for wearing and performance, Perach’s works hide the physical body while revealing internal lives. Stick Head 2 (2023) is the third iteration in Perach’s Stick Head series. A densely stuffed abstraction of a head with a hand wrapped around the face. A stone sits in place of the mouth, as what Perach notes is both as lipstick and a gag, expressing ways in which femininity and violence are intertwined.

Rakhi Peswani (India, b. 1977)

Working in a variety of mediums inspired by her extensive travels throughout India in her youth, Rakhi Peswani’s practice is a reflection of Indian craft traditions. With an emphasis on handmade techniques and fabrics, Peswani creates work concerning inner worlds. Her works have an emphasis on language, and are dyed primarily with natural pigments. Absence as Silence (2012) is emblematic of these qualities. Embroidered on mop cloth, noting the domesticity associated with feminism.

Alejandro Puente (Argentina, b. 1933 - d. 2013)

A central figure in the history of conceptualism, Alejandro Puente lived in New York from 1967 to 1971. He participated in the landmark exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art, in which he showed pioneering investigations of color as a self-contained language of production. It was also in New York, following his personal experiences of displacement from Argentina to the United States and a visit to a 1968 pre-Columbian exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that he began investigating the aesthetics of pre-Hispanic cultures, more specifically Inca textiles. Of the various works inspired by Inca quipus presented in the present exhibition, Puente’s Quipu “nudos” most closely resembles the original quipu structure of a main cord from which several subordinate colored cords are suspended. An ancient recordkeeping system used for census data, tax collection, and other administrative functions, quipus are sometimes referred to as “talking knots,” with each knot’s type, color, and position within the string signifying different values, readable by a quipucamayoc, or quipu specialist. Typically made of cotton or camelid fibers, quipus were sophisticated portable recordkeeping devices, facilitating the storage and transfer of information across the empire.

Ronny Quevedo (Ecuador, b.1981)

The Bronx-based artist Ronny Quevedo incorporates and subverts aspects of abstraction, collage, and sports imagery in his wide-ranging practice exploring notions of identity. Often referencing the Ecuadoran roots of his soccer player father and seamstress mother, Quevedo studies the intersection of mainstream and marginalized cultures. In body and sol, he reclaims the indigenous language of abstraction found in Huari and Inca garments and applies gold foil squares on top of patterned dressmaking paper. With these corresponding references to mapping the body, Quevedo creates what he refers to as a language of displacement and migration, juxtaposing luxury with generally unseen labor. The title plays on the Spanish word sol, which means “sun” and is a homophone of the English word soul, providing an example of Quevedo’s transference of cultural meaning.


Société Réaliste (Paris, France, 2004 – )

Société Réaliste is the collaborative work of French Artists Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy. Their practice explores subversions of power structures that come in the form of signage, geography, flags and other signifiers of power produced by authoritative sources such as the government. In UN Camouflage Flag, 2012 the artists combined colors from the flags of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (The United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France), turning the flags into a camouflaged pattern. In this, the artists strip each country of their individual identity, imagining a borderless world based in accepted diversity and unity. Conversely, camouflage is also associated with military power noting that with global influence oftentimes comes violence.

Elena del Rivero (Spain, b. 1949)

Spanish artist Elena del Rivero moved to New York City in 1991, where she continues to live and create. Del Rivero’s work draws from both the mundanity of everyday objects, and her notable personal experiences. The artist’s former studio, located at Ground Zero, suffered shattered windows and was overtaken by an immense amount of dust and debris during the 9/11 attacks. The works created in subsequent years dealt directly with the trauma of proximity to the attacks and interrogated the sense of isolation impacting her mental health. In Untitled (Red) (2004) , del Rivero depicts two cells broken down into subcomponents in red ink. The cells are separated by a section of raw canvas on which she signed her name and dated the work. The center of the work is intersected by a brash black line of horizontal stitches, giving the appearance of sutured skin over a deep wound. The stitched line not only intersects both cells, but separates del Rivero’s first name from her last, pointing to the fragmentation of identity she experienced through trauma, and the ways trauma interacts with bodies.

Susan Spangenberg (USA, b. 1974)

Susan Spangenberg began creating textile-based works during her extended time as a patient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, New York. Home to the Living Museum, the psychiatric center houses an art studio for patients, and a collection of their art. Spangenberg’s Asylum Dolls  are a reclamation of her tumultuous childhood in which her abusive mother did not allow her to sew. She came from a lineage of seamstresses, and craved opportunities to continue this work. The dolls are an idealization of women, separated into categorizations of “Icons” and “Average Gals”, all of whom dealt with institutionalization, or wavering mental health. This doll is Spangenberg’s interpretation of Alice, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Written on the doll is an extended quote from the text, and stuffing is held in with jovial, rainbow stitching. With buttons for eyes and yarn for hair, Spangenberg’s Alice takes on a craft-like quality. Making up for the safety she lacked during childhood, the doll serves as a comfort object, reframing her childhood as one with softness.

Pedro Tineo (Venezuela, b. 1966)

Pedro Tineo was born in Venezuela in 1966. He studied visual arts at the Instituto Universitario de Estudios Superiores de Artes Plásticas Armando Reveròn, el Instituto de Arte Federico Brandt, and Escuela de Artes Visuales Cristobál Rojas. His artistic practice draws inspiration from nature, folklore, and uses of unconventional materials. Tineo has shown work at art fairs in New York, Miami, Buenos Aires, and Caracas among others. 

Georges Valris (Haiti, b. 1943)

Georges Valris was born in Cavaillon, Haiti. Prior to finding his present artistic practice, Valris was trained in basket making, apparel creation, and spent years as a stevedore on a cruise ship. A friend taught him to embroider sequins onto fabric, which became both a means for income and the basis of his personal art. Although Valris does not practice Vodou as his religion and identifies as a devout Catholic, he sees Vodou as inseparable from his Haitian heritage. As such, he incorporates Catholic deities into his Vodou-inspired tapestries. Vodou flags are used to adorn altars, or to drape over shoulders during religious ceremonies. In Agoue (2011), Valris depicts the Vodou god of water and aquatic life, Agoue, who is considered to be a spiritual parallel with the Catholic Saint Ulrich of Augsburg. Agoue is also canonically represented by a ship, and is married to La Sirene, considered to be a revealer of truths, and featured in this work as well.


Cecilia Vicuña (Chile, b. 1948)

Cecilia Vicuña is an activist, artist, and poet from Santiago, Chile. Her multifaceted practice centers on themes of environmental protection, Indigenous sovereignty, and human rights. In the 1960s Vicuña began referencing  quipus in her part, falling under her series of work she terms Arte Precario. As quipus were made illegal in the Andean region in the 1500s upon Spanish conquest, she utilizes them in the present to emphasize the importance of Indigenous protection. Caracol Azul (Blue Snail, 2017) is a present-day continuation done in the legacy of Arte Precario and her quipu. Intended to appear as an unfurling snail, this large-scale installation created from raw wool is a further investigation of the ways structure can occupy space. To Vicuña, Caracol Azul is based on ancient Mayans observing the reflective lights of snails leaving trails on the earth, from which the god of scripture emerged. The color, blue, is the same color as water. Vicuña says "Because the rivers and the ocean are at risk of dying, and without water, humans will also die." Each time the work is installed, repair has to be performed on the delicate wool, in a process the artist refers to as healing. Throughout time and subsequent installations, the work changes dimensions, length, and weight, exemplifying the ways in which time is documented and reflected in art. There are also visual similarities to Vicuña’s Quipu Menstrual (2006),which is a metaphor for the Andean mountains bleeding at the hands of privatized mining.

Yvonne Wells (USA, b. 1939)

Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Wells uses quilts as a medium to narrate stories. Following a quilt-making tradition initiated by enslaved women at Gee’s Bend, Alabama, in the nineteenth century, Wells most often references social and civil rights issues in the United States. In A Shadow over Justice, the artist confronts the American legal system and its systemic biases. The scales of justice are here shown heavily favoring the white-collar worker. Below, a man is incarcerated, while his affluent counterpart enjoys freedom amid idyllic surroundings. This contrast, set against the backdrop of an American flag, presents a critical condemnation of the uneven application of justice in US society.


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