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Katie Masopust’s art begins a renewed interest in fiber arts

“Pizzicato” by Katie Pasquini Masopust shares compositional parallels with works by Lee Bontecou from the 1960s while trasncending the former artist’s subdued palette.

“Pizzicato” by Katie Pasquini Masopust shares compositional parallels with works by Lee Bontecou from the 1960s while trasncending the former artist’s subdued palette.

Palette Contemporary Art and Craft presents “Not Your Grandma’s Quilt” by cutting edge textile artist Katie Pasquini Masopust through March 4th.

The eye-dazzling installation relies on modernist and post-modernist inspiration from a range of sources including the artist’s own imagination. The exhibition is a fine example of the renewed interest in fiber arts that is coming to the forefront on a global level.

During my recent lecture tour on “Artistic Creativity and Expression” at five universities in northern China I encountered a fiber arts renaissance that has been growing during the past 25 years. The biennial “Lucerne to Beijing” international juried exhibition now in its sixth iteration was founded by Professor Lin Lecheng and his colleagues at Tsinghua University along with major input from New Mexico weaver Nancy Kozikowski more than 15 years ago.

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Since those early efforts by Lin and Kozikowski to bridge Eastern and Western cultural aesthetics the show has become a highly competitive international celebration of contemporary fiber arts.

“Graffiti I” by Katie Pasquini Masopust while giving a nod to Jackson Pollock’s pour, drip and splash act painting technique also reveals the artist’s intelligent sense of design and knowledge of the distant past.

“Graffiti I” by Katie Pasquini Masopust while giving a nod to Jackson Pollock’s pour, drip and splash act painting technique also reveals the artist’s intelligent sense of design and knowledge of the distant past.

I was excited when I saw Masopust’s stunning exhibition that certainly stands on the recently reconstructed world stage for fiber artists.

In works like “Pizzicato,” Masopust not only showcases her talents as a crafts person but as a fine arts painter as well. Within “Pizzicato” and its companion pieces titled “Ostinato 1” and “Ostinato 2,” I found aesthetic parallels between Masopust and mixed media artist Lee Bontecou from the 1960s.

Both artists use line defined broken geometric planes infused with earthen tones to create dynamic compositions. Though between the two I much prefer Masopust’s intersecting and overlapping planes that include a brighter palette that is not as austere as Botecuo’s constructivist inspired post World War I subdued color range.

Masopust however, is not afraid to learn from the constructivists and suprematists from the early 20th century. In 1918, Kazimir Malevich painted “Suprematist Composition: White on White” that featured a slightly askew white rectangle painted upon a white rectangular background. The artist used lead white for the canvas and titanium white for the floating rectangle so there was enough difference in hue to see both rectangles.

Masopust adopted Malevich’s conception in her razzle dazzle “Graffiti I” and “Graffiti II” quilted and painted color statements. Both rectangular compositions are based upon a smaller and yet complete compositions that are perfectly echoed in the overall work.

In “Graffiti I” the dynamic circular motif in the small rectangle is rendered in ink and black paint while its large version is rendered in fabric. The backgrounds on both inner and outer designs are predominantly red.

"Gaffiti II" by Katie Pasquini Masopust is a luscious re-visitation of "Graffiti I" with a cooler palette and a brighter mood in her Not Your Grandmothers Quilt solo exhibition at Palette Contemporary Art and Craft.

“Gaffiti II” by Katie Pasquini Masopust is a luscious re-visitation of “Graffiti I” with a cooler palette and a brighter mood in her Not Your Grandmothers Quilt solo exhibition at Palette Contemporary Art and Craft.

In “Graffiti II” the colors shift to intense blues and ocher for the circular motif with dark blues and white in the background.

The fun part of her work is found in the apparent nod to Jackson Pollock’s pour, splash and drip painting technique. When Masopust uses heavy paint it is allowed to run down the surface á la Pollock but she will painstakingly reproduce those “runs” in fabric when she enlarges the image. It really imbeds the wow factor in her quilts.

All of these works are beautifully executed and reveal the artist’s intelligent mastery of design and technique. Masopust’s level of control within the apparent chaos of abstract expressionist gestural design inspires applause from this viewer. We are witnessing a true artist at work.

Beware of the pigeonhole of “craft” too often assigned to fiber arts. There’s a whole lot of art making going on in her studio!

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