Interconnections: The Language of Basketry curated by Carol Eckert

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Emily Dvorin, Big Fat Hairy Deal, 2013, 17” X 25” X 18”, hardware cloth, hair curlers, cable ties. Courtesy of the artist.

You’d expect to find bamboo, cane or bark used as materials in an art exhibition on basketry – but hair curlers? Plastic zip ties?

The works created by the twenty-two artists highlighted in the Hunterdon Art Museum’s newest exhibition, Interconnections: The Language of Basketry, include everything from stapled paper to fabricated metal. Some employ found objects, others utilize clay, linen, or wire. Works range from a large interactive floor sculpture to a small intricate construction of metal and paper, but all are united by an inventive approach to an ancient craft.

Interconnections opens at the Hunterdon Art Museum on Sunday, May 15 with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. The event is open to all, and wine and cheese will be served.

“These artists employ basketry processes and concepts in dynamic and imaginative ways, challenging the common view of basketry as a utilitarian folk craft,” said Carol Eckert, curator of Interconnections: The Language of Basketry. “Experimenting with techniques and materials — sometimes referencing ancient methods — they create works ranging from large-scale, site-specific works to wall pieces, sculptural constructions and vessel-based forms.”

This exhibition looks to the present and future by emphasizing work created within the past few years, some of it specifically for this venue. It includes an installation by Pat Hickman, who has been prominent in the contemporary basketry movement; along with unique sculptural works by artist/designer Doug Johnston, whose line of coiled cotton rope vessels is available online and at shops worldwide.

Nathalie Miebach is represented by a complex sculpture which merges scientific and visual inquiry, and incorporates weather data from Hurricane Sandy as it approached the New Jersey shore.

John McQueen, one of the most influential artists associated with the basketry field, has expanded his repertoire to embrace sculptural forms of all kinds, including books, columns and wall pieces. All the works reference the basketry process, and while most use materials traditionally associated with baskets such as twigs, bark and vines, others — recycled plastics, zip ties and string — might surprise viewers. His work has been described as hovering “in the gap between craft, sculpture and conceptual art.” He is represented here by two works, one of which incorporates text.

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Gyongy Laky, Estuary, 2007, 35” x 34” x3.5”, Apple, water-based ink, backed screws, courtesy of the artist.

Working at the intersection of art and interior architecture, Sui Park uses plastic zip ties in her sculptures, creating installations of flexible, organic forms which spread across the floor or are suspended in space.

Museum visitors are encouraged to participate in the interactive Penelope Project, which can be found in the River Gallery. The Penelope Project, created by Phyllis Kudder Sullivan, encourages everyone to carve their names and nationalities into the leather-hard clay arches that comprise the threads of the piece.

“I brought the idea of interlacing to the forefront by focusing on the concept of weaving as a means of interconnectedness,” Sullivan noted. “It underscores a connected approach to life in which different threads are integrated into one tapestry.”

Other artists featured in the show are: Dona Anderson, Jerry Bleem, Charissa Brock, Ann B. Coddington, Emily Dvorin, Lindsay Ketterer Gates, Donna Hapac, Mieko Kawase, Jay Kelly, Heechan Kim, Nancy Koenigsberg, Tracy Krumm, Gyongy Laky, Jo Stealey, Gina Telcocci and Ann Weber.

The exhibition runs until Sept. 4.

Diana González-Gandolfi: Navigated Territories

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Diana González Gandolfi, Passing Through, 2016, Pigmented wax, graphite and pigment stick over encaustic collagraph mounted on panel, 40 x 40 x 2 in. Photo credit: Greg Leshé Photography.

As the daughter of an architect working for the United Nations, artist Diana González Gandolfi  grew up in many different countries and in many different homes. She learned early in life how to make home wherever she happened to be.

This life experience of being uprooted and moving among various cultures shapes the overriding theme of Gandolfi’s solo exhibition, Navigated Territories, which opens Sunday, May 15 at the Hunterdon Art Museum. An opening reception will be held that day from 2 to 4 p.m., and all are welcome.

“The experience of geographic and temporal separation from the place I once called home is central to much of my recent work,” she said. “The works in this series specifically relate to these experiences of being uprooted and in transition, of moving from a known singular place to a layered world where multiple cultures and geographies competed and connected.”

All the paintings and prints featured in the exhibition are autobiographical and are part of a series that focuses on memory, identity and place. The images are full of familial, cultural and political influences while metaphorically exploring issues about separation, alienation, loss, political injustices and mortality.

“In this series, I use map imagery of places I grew up, visited or lived in as backdrops for personal narratives,” Gandolfi said. “The works all relate to each other like a storyboard yet each individual piece has its own narrative and geography.

“I use maps metaphorically to represent these journeys,” she added. “Maps are wonderful vehicles to explore all sorts of things, and it is my hope that viewers of this exhibition will explore not only my journeys but also leave this show with an awakened interest in exploring new paths of their own.”

The triptych Trinity of Memories – the largest piece exhibited – is central to the meaning of the entire show. “It is about connections and navigating difficult moments in life with the assistance and caring of loved ones,” Gandolfi said. “It is about transitions and traversing across uncontrollable life situations.”

The works in the show are all hybrids of drawing, painting and printmaking with a printed image used as a base. The framed paper pieces are either monotypes or encaustic collagraphs reworked with watercolor and pencil. The works on panel are all mixed media layered and start as encaustic collagraphs or monotype prints. These pieces are then attached to wood panels and reworked with layers of encaustic medium, collage elements, pigmented wax, graphite, watercolor and pigment stick.

“The use of encaustic as a painting medium is both ancient and modern,” said Hildreth York, who is curating this exhibition with Ingrid Renard.  “Traditionally, beeswax has been used as the vehicle for pigment, and heat as the means to adhere, layer, fuse and texture the elements and images created. Diana González Gandolfi is a consummate master of this art form. Her art is physically and conceptually layered. Rich surfaces reveal formal structures underlying intuitive and painterly responses to life and memories.”

Gandolfi’s work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States since 1978. She has received awards, fellowships and residencies from various institutions, including two Boston Museum of Fine Arts Traveling Fellowships, a NJ State Council on the Arts Distinguished Artist Award and Fellowship for Printmaking, and two NJ State Council on the Arts Painting Fellowships.

The exhibition runs through Sept. 4.

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