Thursday, April 14, 2016

Embroidered Spaces

Worlds of floating thread by Amanda McCavour at SPSCC

Published in the Weekly Volcano, April 14, 2016

Photos: installation shots of Amanda McCavour's Embroadered Spaces, courtesy South Puget Sound Community College

Canadian artist Amanda McCavour’s installation, Embroidered Spaces at South Puget Sound Community College is a magical, gossamer world that is, quite frankly, unlike anything I have ever seen. And believe me, I have seen a lot of art. A lot. But nothing like this.
McCavour draws with thread by stitching on water soluble fabric. Once the fabric is dissolved, what’s left are line drawings in thread with no support, which she then hangs from the ceiling on long threads. In appearance they are incredibly delicate and see-through because there is nothing but air between the drawn lines, and yet they are sturdy enough to hold their shape.
"Thread (is) a metaphor for memory and how we remember the spaces we call home," the artist writes. She says the rooms depicted in this installation are interiors she once called home.
In the center of the gallery is a field of flowers in pastel tones of pink, yellow, blue and white, with green stems. I could not count them, but it looked like hundreds — a shower of flowers raining down from the ceiling on shimmering threads and reflect in the wet-looking black floor.
On the periphery and visible through the flowers are drawings of the artist’s apartments (having not read that statement at the time I saw it, I saw the entire installation as a single home with many rooms).
The rooms or apartments are drawn in a delightful manner reminiscent of children’s book illustrations. Everything is slightly misshaped like images in a funhouse mirror, but everything other than some of the smaller items are clearly recognizable.
The largest or these rooms/apartments has three chairs, a desk, a small table with animal dolls on it, a stack of suitcases (is she preparing to vacate this apartment?), three pairs of shoes and other oddments, with pictures of people on the wall. Of course the pictures are not actually on the wall but are hanging in front of the wall.
There is a smaller room nearby that I saw as a den or study. There’s a small oscillating fan sitting (almost) on the floor, and there are stacks of books. It is homey and casual, and clearly home to an intellectual. Outside is a flower garden like the one in the center of the gallery but much smaller.
Another room or apartment seems to belong to a dog lover. There is a couch and chairs and more suitcases (this artist seems to be constantly on the move) and three framed pictures of dogs.
I mentioned earlier that the drawings look like children’s book illustrations. They also remind me a lot of scenes painted by the artist Red Grooms, except the worlds Grooms creates are more hectic, more cluttered, and inhabited by people. McCavour’s apartments are empty of people. I don’t know if she is single or if she lives with somebody else, but the obvious implication of the rooms in this installation is that they were occupied by a single person who happily enjoyed the quiet pleasures of home. Wandering through this installation is like taking a walk through another person’s past. And her life has been a life — or so it is conveyed through her art — of comfort and simple pleasures. She treasures memories of  every place she has lived, of the pets she has owned and the flowers she enjoyed looking at out her window.
Technically the work is impressive. Creating these images and putting them together was obviously labor intensive and a labor of love. We in the South Sound are lucky to be able to see this inventive recreation of Amanda McCavour’s former homes.
South Puget Sound Community College, Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. through May 6, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia, 360.596.5527.]

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