Juxtaposition always makes me dizzy | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Juxtaposition always makes me dizzy

Textiles meet paint in Samantha Bittman's "Perceptual Notions"


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Whoever thought weaving could be so bold? In her new show, "Perceptual Notions," Samantha Bittman brings fierce playfulness to a traditionally mild-mannered craft by painting over the patterns in her woven textiles. The results are dizzying. Bittman is certainly not the first to give domestic arts an edge—think of Hmong tapestries that depict war or the AIDS quilt. But her edginess is formal rather than political. It stems from combining disparate aesthetics like early Op Art and Ukrainian loom work. The Tighter You Hold Me, for instance, features a repeating, woven spiral motif punctuated by painted diamond shapes that only reveal themselves to the patient viewer. Bittman's allusive titles suggest that we might find our own human fabric woven into her designs. The show includes seven more conventionally wrought paintings that might stand up better if they didn't have to compete with the wow factor of the weavings.

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