Five pandemic-postponed art shows worth seeing right now
by Christopher Knight
May 11, 2022
In the mid-1970s, she set the loom aside to make labor-intensive textiles with her hands— think all weft, no warp — coiling thread into long, thin, finely wrought ropes that Jacobs used to build basketlike forms. (Log in to the gallery’s website for video demonstrations.) “Shadow Figure” (1976-77) is a thin, wedge-shaped volume that stands5 feet tall, leans against a wall and is open at the top, constructed from medium tan thread shot through in a few discrete places with red, white and blue. The deflated cavity, an abstract vessel, is loosely suggestive of bodily viscera.
Many of Jacobs’ thread sculptures evoke internal body parts, including orifices ranging from vulva to mouth, although almost never explicitly. Linear webs hang loosely on the wall, like residue from an autopsy surgeon’s scalpel, while snakelike shapes seem to be in the process of shedding their skin — ecdysis, as internal development outgrows its container.
Others rise precariously from the floor, as if determined to stand. Some, open at both top and bottom, could be imagined as magnificent headdresses.
Wall text aptly describes the general sculptural demeanor as totemic: With their inescapable displays of ritual repetition in the fabrication of coiled thread, the works seem to function as intuitively generated emblems that don’t describe things in naturebut instead embody their spirit. “The Round” (2007-08) is among the most beautiful: Anearly 2-foot-tall pair of lumpy, voluptuous, vibrantly multicolored vessels has next tono figurative qualities, but the forms nonetheless appear to be locked in a powerful embrace.