Image: Carolina Yrarrázaval. All photos by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts.
For over 30 years, browngrotta arts has been advancing the field of contemporary fibre arts by curating and exhibiting renowned contemporary artists who celebrate the exploration and unique possibilities of fibre art techniques. Every year husband and wife team Tom Grotto and Rhonda Brown open their private home—a two-story barn built in 1895— for “Art in the Barn”, a unique annual exhibition. The Spring 2021 “Art in the Barn” exhibition is named Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change and explores the myriad ways artists change direction in response to changed circumstances.
"Over the last year throughout the pandemic, by necessity, we’ve grown more introspective, more insular and more aware of our interconnectedness,” note Tom and Rhonda, who also curate the exhibition. "We’ve had to acknowledge our permeable national boundaries, shared air, the limits of personal space."
Image: Irina Kolesnikova, Letters From Quarantine.
The artists who work with browngrotta arts have coped with the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought in various ways — moving locations, taking up art photography, taking new inspiration from nature. However, Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change also explores broader catalysts for change: when a material becomes unavailable (willow) or a new one suggests itself (fiber optic, bronze, copper, steel, kibisio, akebia); a move in the US from the East to the South; emigrating from one country to another; moving from the city to the desert; a change in physical abilities (allergy, injury); an altered personal relationship; even a commission opportunity or an exhibition challenge.
For Irina Kolesnikova, the restrictions on ‘normal life’ caused by the pandemic which curtailed travel and trips to museums and galleries lead to a new artistic approach. “Suddenly, life was put on pause, our social circle reduced to the size of our immediate environment,” she says. "In these circumstances, I felt a need to dive deeper into myself to realize the direction in which I should act and work." The result was a series of small works, Letters from Quarantine in which small handwritten fragments are layered or mixed with scraps of printed texts and with large letters or numbers created with a brush.
Image: Ana Henriksen, Urban Growth (detail).
In Ane Henriksen’s case, change resulted from a move from the countryside to the city. Relocated to Copenhagen, she found and gathered loads of lost gloves and mittens along the cycle paths. The work that resulted paralleled her personal transition to city dweller. "From this poetic waste material - a kind of urban fall - new growths can arise," Henriksen observes. In her piece for Adaptation, she makes gloves float between threads resulting in a kind of Urban Growth.