In her new solo exhibition, Groundwork, Keren Lowell treats fabric as a sculptural medium. She has transformed modest rags into bold, large-scale sculptures that speak to a journey through physical and emotional terrain – the literal ground beneath our feet and the things that keep us grounded.
The Anchorage artist reclaims discarded fabric and paper from domestic environments, including towels, lace, to-do lists and clothing. “There is something humble, heroic, even tragic about this cloth,” Lowell said. “The holes and abrasions are beautiful to me. They reveal an accumulation of use, of work, of neglect and time.
Although the bas-reliefs are made almost entirely of re-purposed fabric and paper, they are all rigid. She layered the materials and impregnated the pieces with resin, plaster of Paris, paste and pigments so the surfaces read less like textiles and more like leather, stone, wood and hide. In this way, Lowell binds together delicate, discarded materials to build something strong with new purpose.
Lowell says beneath the distressed surfaces lie conceptual underpinnings of economy, ecology and gender politics. Historically and culturally, fiber and textiles are considered women's work, often dismissed as decorative, domestic and anonymous. Her contemporary textiles subvert these notions and question prejudices.
Lowell ventures into dark territory in this exhibition, but it’s important to note all the work is backlit. For her, the luminous effect acknowledges the enduring power and hope of light.
Lowell has a master’s of fine arts in fiber from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and taught art classes at UAA as an adjunct from 1994 to 2013. Her work has been chosen for Anchorage Museum juried exhibitions including Earth Fire and Fibre and All Alaska Juried. This is her first solo exhibition at the Anchorage Museum.
This exhibition is presented as part of the Patricia B. Wolf Solo Exhibition Series. The Anchorage Museum is grateful to the Alaska State Council on the Arts; the National Endowment of the Arts, a federal agency; the Municipality of Anchorage; and the Anchorage Museum Foundation’s Alaska Airlines Silver Anniversary Fund for ongoing support of the museum’s important solo exhibition series.
2 p.m Saturday, Sept. 27
Keren Lowell explains how she layers different media to create new textures. Included with admission
ARTIST ON THE FLOOR
8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3
Mingle with Anchorage artist Keren Lowell in her solo exhibition and ask her questions. Free