Martha Clippinger, cuadro, 2016, hand-dyed woven wool, 51.5 x 49 in., woven by Agustin Contreras Lopez.
Martha Clippinger: Two Sides/Dos Lados
June 29 - August 11
Reception: August 3, 6 - 8 PM
Martha Clippinger (b. Columbus, GA, 1983) makes objects that blur defined borders between painting and sculpture, art and craft, questioning the necessity of such distinctions. Her current work exists in two separate but related modes; modestly-sized brightly painted three-dimensional wall works, and large, bold, patterned ‘tapetes’, or rugs, woven from Clippinger’s gouache drawings. Fittingly, she shares a hometown and draws inspiration from two figures who operate similarly: Eddie Owens Martin and Alma Thomas. Both artists are known for working in saturated color, meticulous pattern, and for creating work that supersedes those same boundaries.
At first glance, Clippinger’s work fits neatly within a lineage of artists working in abstraction within the last century. Her found-object assemblages bear no small resemblance to work by Betty Parsons (1900 -1982), perhaps better known as a legendary gallerist and advocate for abstract expressionists before the movement was well-received critically. The ‘tapetes’ can be seen as related to weavings by artist and textile designer Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889 - 1943) who also challenged arbitrary divisions between art and craft and championed the use of materials and techniques that had not been used in fine art contexts previously. These artists, of course, are understood as figures situated firmly within the Western art canon and the movements they helped to establish. As is often the case, in the process of their historicization, the non-western aesthetic practices from which they frequently drew inspiration were often forgotten or ignored.
Clippinger’s work, however, is remarkably cognizant of the universal context from which it arises. This is especially true for the
In this body of work especially, the divisions that have been put in place to keep art and craft separate are rendered moot, and the impetus for the establishment of those divisions is laid bare. Frequently the distinction between what constitutes art and craft is determined along lines of gender, race, class, and geography. The work of artists is differentially privileged, legitimized, and valued according to these hierarchies. Clippinger, in recognizing this and making work that actively flattens some of those differences, does important work in undoing the structures that maintain such a
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