September 4 - 28
Opening Reception- Saturday, September 7
Dedee Shattuck Gallery presents Witness, an exhibition of sculptural installations and images by Julie Kiechel. Kiechel reflects on the evolution of humanity through a series of conceptual works, which will be displayed for the month of September at the Shattuck.
Kiechel has worked in manufacturing, marketing, and design, with projects ranging from her own line of women’s apparel, to a collection of jewelry produced in collaboration with Calphalon cookware. In 2004, Kiechel honed in her design and manufacturing experience into a MFA in metals from Bowling Green State University. Her experiences working with manufacturing facilities, the fashion industry, and the fine arts have developed strong connections to materials as well as an awareness of the complex and often problematic issues surrounding material culture.
Kiechel uses a color palatte of black, white, and red, and manufactured materials such as vinyl, high-density foam, and industrial felt. Although the materials and design aesthetic are distinctly modern, much of her visual reference has ancient roots. There are three main forms repeated in the exhibition- scrolls, simplified apparel forms and Cycladic figures.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is presented with large white vinyl scrolls. Scrolls have been used to record and disseminate religious and secular information across many cultures and contexts. Here, the scrolls recall modern billboards and promotional marketing materials, calling into question our current relationship with public information.
Keichel also creates simplified apparel forms from industrial felt arranged into graphic installations. The apparel forms—a simple shirt, a geometric pant—are without specific reference to culture, time period, or gender, therefore symbolizing any and every human. The works remind the viewer that in spite of perceived boundaries created by fashion, culture, time and economics, the essence of humanity remains universal.
Throughout the exhibit, there are images painted on vinyl, foam cutouts, and felt depictions of simplified human forms, referencing the figure sculptures of the Cyclades—a Neolithic Aegean civilization. They stand sturdily, arms crossed, with expressionless faces described only by a thin sliver marble nose. The artist sees these ancient figures as the silent witness to an ever-changing human history.
Kiechel sees a world that is changing, but with this exhibit, asks the question- are we truly evolving? Progression is often equated with material and technological innovation, but when it comes with a human cost, can it truly be considered progress? When unthinkable violence continues to occur on our planet, in our country, and in our neighborhoods, have we really evolved at all? Kiechel wishes to draw attention to these disparities, with the hope that viewers may themselves move from the role of silent witness, to active participant.
Julie Kiechel Artist Statement:
Whereas the writer/historian concentrates on theme, concept and issues, the artist is compelled to produce and create. For me, the issues involve my vision of life experiences. Art and the processes of art are my language and vocabulary. To produce and create is to breathe and eat. I am compelled to immerse myself in the process.
I was a young adult of the 60’s with accepted abstract expressionism, optical art and Bauhaus constructionism. Also as a political activist, my vision was impacted by civil and gender rights, the Vietnam War, and governmental corruption.
Initially, I was involved with jewelry and 3-D design under the teaching of Earl Pardon. I learned construction with large surfaces in a classical manner. The late 60’s and early 70’s were classrooms for the cutting- edge craft design, political activism, and motherhood, plus a job in retailing, and finally, teaching.
Starting graduate work in metals and metalsmithing with Marilyn Griewank led to developing a fashion design/ mfg business, couture fashion production wholesale/ retail for high end sales. Currently, large scale sculptural artwork in mixed media has followed the completion of my MFA in 3-Design.
Influential texts that impact my work are “Patterns that Connect,” Carl Schuster/ Edmund Carpenter, and “Symmetries of Culture,” Dorothy K. Washburn/Donald W. Crowe. Clothing was some of the earliest art- functional, mobile, celebritory, and also historically recorded. The patterns from different and distant cultures are remarkably similar and are compatible with modern design.
My artform and language are patterns that represent connecting cultures and history. These forms are woven together to produce design and a contemporary vision and story.
Dedeeshattuckgallery.com | 508. 636. 4177 | 1 Partners' Lane, Westport, MA 02790
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