Craft in America Center is pleased to present an exhibition that explores the ongoing influence of Anni Albers through the work of ten contemporary American artists and designers working with textiles. Material Meaning: A Living Legacy of Anni Albers includes work by artists Samantha Bittman, Lois Bryant, Christy Matson, Jennifer Moore, Brittany Wittman McLaughlin, Rachel Snack, Susie Taylor, Cameron Taylor-Brown, Suzanne Tick, and Marcia Weiss.
The artists’ artwork, experiments, and functional woven textiles and prototypes mirror Albers’ varied design practice. This exhibition is only a taste of Albers’ impact given the broad and deep nature of her career. It explores Albers’ continued importance as interpreted by a group of current practitioners in the fields of art, handweaving, education, and textile design. This exhibition coincides with and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, where Albers studied and later taught. As a teacher, Albers helped establish a pedagogy that many of these artists use today. In fact, some of the artists will be giving workshops at the Center during the run of the exhibition.
Each participating artist draws upon different aspects of Albers’ artworks and designs. Samantha Bittman is fascinated by Albers’ ability to make her weavings into the pictorial subject rather than making a picture with her weavings. Recently, Bittman gained a deeper understanding of the artist with her Artist-in-Residency at the Josef and Anni Albers foundation where she was able to weave on Albers’ loom and live amongst her works. Lois Bryant explores Albers’ idea of “the shaping of the shapeless” and the limitations imposed by the materials, but not the limitations imposed by tradition. Christy Matson draws from Albers’ spirit of experimentation yet dedication to formalism in areas of design. Like Albers, Jennifer Moore travels to visit other cultures and draws inspiration from other weaving techniques, both old and new. Brittany Wittman McLaughlin learned, through Albers, that weaving is an art and a science of color interactions and textures of the various yarns and materials. Coming out of Albers’ study of touch, Rachel Snack’s textiles create a physical memory bearing witness to the hand of the artist, becoming a material portrait of the self. Susie Taylor pulls from the artist’s work to find her own rhythms and surface interest while resisting extraneous design elements based on Albers’ idea that “simplicity is not simpleness but clarified vision.” As Albers ignored the often-arbitrary boundaries between handweaving, textile design, and art making, Cameron Taylor-Brown found direction in her career based on that. Suzanne Tick states that her early weavings favored Albers’ style of working with alternative materials, exposing the warp, geometric patterning, and putting multiple threads in the weft shed. In Anni Albers On Weaving, she speaks of the ‘elemental’ nature of tactile experiences and of “material in the rough,” which influenced Marcia Weiss in her creative process: examining each of the materials for its essential properties—fiber, hand, luster, surface.
This exhibition is guest curated by Cameron Taylor-Brown.
Catalog: Material Meaning: A Living Legacy of Anni Albers by Cameron Taylor-Brown and Brittany Wittman McLaughlin. Published October 2019 by The Weaving Workshop in collaboration with the Craft in America Center. Softcover. 84 pages. To purchase the catalog ($36), visit: theweavingworkshop.com/material-meaning