Art Review: Discerning Patterns at Hammond Harkins Galleries Places Impeccable Craftsmanship on View
An evocative show of over 30 works examines the relationship between craft and fine art.
Discerning Patterns, an exhibition of Carol Stewart’s paintings and Janice Lessman-Moss’s textile works at Hammond Harkins Galleries, is inspired by the interplay of color, pattern, and impeccable craftsmanship which is present in both artists’ works.
Stewart, a Columbus-based still-life painter, and Lessman-Moss, a professor of Textile Arts at Kent State University, are tethered together by references to domesticity, and yet Discerning Patterns is after something larger than that. This exhibition brings up complex and relevant issues of fine art, a context that Stewart’s paintings would traditionally belong to, versus craft, the context that Lessman-Moss’s textile works would belong to. In recent history, since the 1940s or so, craft has taken a backseat to fine art in the context of the gallery setting. Aside from that, craft is typically analyzed through a varied set of terms that center on functionality and use-value. What sets Discerning Patterns apart is the requirement that the viewer give equal space to each object, and therefore analyze the works through a fixed lens.
Stewart’s paintings, mostly still-life and interior scenes, are tied to representation. There are moments in Stewart’s paintings where her loose brushwork seems to define something else, elements of pattern which aren’t tied to objects at all. Studio Patterns is exemplary of Stewart’s aim. Using oil on paper, mounted on canvas, Stewart achieves a buttery smooth surface to her images. The absorption of the oil into the paper creates evident transparent layers of paint which are often hidden in the medium.
The painting is an interior scene of Stewart’s studio, packed with too many plants, tables with patterned cloths, a textile draped in the background – it’s so busy that your eye doesn’t have a place to rest. This is an important aspect of the work because it is the packed picture plane itself which seems to transform the canvas to an abstract pattern forcing it to depart from observational reality. This reminds me of the French painter, Henri Matisse’s lively interiors of the early 20th century where his very aim was not to let the eye rest.
Lessman-Moss’s textile pieces are completely informed by her process. They are large and abstract, brimming with lively line, sophisticated and brilliant colors. The works are made on a Jacquard loom, meaning there is a portion of her process that follows her design, then the digitally-driven loom takes over. Lensman-Moss then, at times, goes back into her work to alter the digital process. The result is elaborate and alluring, large tableaus with organic and intricate line-work which is grounded by defined warp and weft rows – the images are optical and fixating. Works like her Coming Home by Going Away, a largely green and blue textile work created through this process – emblematize her process and creates an incredible dichotomy with Stewart’s Studio Patterns.
The curation of the gallery emphasizes the relationship between the works. Stewart’s paintings and Lessman-Moss’s textiles are paired or grouped together based on the formal nature of each object. For instance, a lively painting of a bouquet of wildflowers titled Summer Flowers, and a second botanical painting Strawflowers, Satsumas by Stewart are paired with a fairly large textile work Dusk Walk by Lessman-Moss. The largely pink, red, and blue of the palettes and the vibrating line-work unite the trio.
Discerning Patterns presents the unique and unexpected relationship between these two artists works which only draw out the strengths in each artist.
Discerning Patterns is on view through May 27, 2017 at Hammond Harkins Galleries, for more information visit hammondharkins.com.
Oil on paper on panel
30 x 40 inches
Coming Home by Going Away
Silk, linen, digital jacquard, hand woven TC2, painted warp, shifted weft ikat
58 x 57 ½ inches
Silk, linen, digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp and weft
64 x 56 ½ inches
Oil on paper on panel
30 x 20 inches
Silk, linen, digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp shifted weft ikat
57 x 57 inches