Pictorial Seams | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Pictorial Seams

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One of the things I've always loved about paint is its near limitless potential--a gooey blop of color can become anything. Looking at Lisa Clark's Spools, a grid of 18 elegant color photographs of spools of sewing thread, I realized that the same could be said of fiber. "Pictorial Seams," an exhibit of works by nine artists that literally or implicitly incorporate fiber, hints at this potential. The show purposefully stretches the definition of "fiber art" by including such media as photography, performance, and video, and the works are linked not just by subject but by issues that surround fiber, particularly its historical use by women in crafts. The most traditional pieces here in terms of technique--Darrel Morris's laboriously embroidered vignettes, many depicting heartbreaking moments of a troubled childhood--draw as much from the pictorial traditions of painting as from the gentler arena of needlecraft. Katy Fischer's Car Lot Fringe is a delicate gray watercolor that raises the tacky strips into the realm of fine art; it's particularly attractive installed next to Ralph Bourque's Kitchen Apparition, a life-size doodle of a homey kitchen, sketched in 3-D with wire. In his "Museum Camouflage" series, Harvey Opgenorth stands in front of famous paintings wearing clothing he's made to match his background, using strips of different-colored fabric to imperfectly mimic the compositions of an Ellsworth Kelly, Helen Frankenthaler, or Henri Matisse. Pictorial seams indeed. School of the Art Institute, Betty Rymer Gallery, Columbus and Jackson, through November 27. Hours are 10 to 5 Friday and Saturday and Monday through Wednesday, and 10 to 8 Thursday; 312-443-3703.

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