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Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

Martine Reid

(b Masset, Queen Charlotte Islands, BC, Nov 4, 1946).

Native American Haida sculptor, metalworker, printmaker and blanket-maker. He was the grandson of the Haida blanket- and basket-maker Florence Davidson (1895–1993), and great-grandson of the Haida wood-carver Charles Edenshaw. He began carving argillite as a teenager in Masset, and in 1966 he met Bill Reid, who offered him workshop space in Vancouver. There Davidson developed new carving skills and learnt the fundamentals of the two-dimensional (‘formline’) designs used by the Haida and other tribes of the northern Northwest Coast (see Native North American art, §III, 2). In 1969 he returned to Masset to carve a 12.2 m-high totem pole, the first heraldic column to be raised on the Queen Charlotte Islands since the end of the 19th century. In 1987 Davidson and his crew produced a set of three totem poles entitled Three Variations on Killer Whale Myths for the Pepsicola Sculptural Garden in Purchase, NY. In these totem poles Davidson worked within the strict conventions of the Haida style, refining it by introducing subtle variations in design but preserving a degree of conservative austerity in which movement and individual expression are sacrificed to overall unity of form. In his early work in silver Davidson used flat patterns influenced by Edenshaw, and he went on to develop these into an innovative style of his own in screenprints, silver and bronze. Davidson’s younger brother, ...

Article

Sandra Sider

Folk art, or vernacular art (specific to a group or place), developed in Colonial America out of necessity when individual households produced most of the utilitarian objects required for daily life. Using traditional tools and techniques, many of these makers created pieces in which aesthetics came to play a substantial role, through form, ornamentation, or both. In some groups, notably the Shakers, function was emphasized, with pure form evoking an aesthetic and spiritual response. Religious beliefs have informed American folk art, such as the saints and other figures (Santos) carved and painted by Catholic settlers in the Southwest as early as 1700. Although the majority of folk art is now anonymous, the oeuvre of numerous individual artists can be determined by their distinctive styles or marks. Folk art is often considered within the field of ‘material culture’, with an emphasis on the object’s context rather than its creator. Most American folk art falls within three categories: painting and cut paper, textiles and fibre, and three-dimensional work such as furniture, carvings, metalwork, ceramics, and outdoor installations....

Article

Native American (Eastern Band of Cherokee), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1957, in Baltimore.

Multimedia artist, photographer, illustrator, basket-weaver with paper.

Shan Goshorn, given the Cherokee Wolf Clan name of Yellow Moon, began training in silversmithing at the Cleveland Institute of Art and transferred to the Atlanta College of Art for her final year, receiving a BFA degree in painting and photography (double major) in ...

Article

Navajo  

Margaret Moore Booker

Tribe of Native Americans who call themselves Diné (“the people”) and whose Dinetah (homelands) are situated on a c. 15 million-acre-reservation in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah. The Navajo have rich artistic traditions in the Southwest dating back at least five centuries. Greatly influenced by Pueblo Indians of the region, the Navajo made textiles, basketry and pottery for utilitarian and religious purposes. Traditionally, it was the Navajo women who made pottery and wove textiles, while the men were silversmiths. The latter, who learned this art from the Spanish, led the way in the development of silver and turquoise jewelry in the Southwest. Their forms and decorative styles influenced other Native American jewelers.

The Navajo excel at weaving. Their earliest works were woolen blankets made on an upright loom and meant to be worn. After trading posts were established on the reservation in the early 1870s, the traders encouraged the Navajo to weave heavier textiles that could serve as rugs. Often given materials and designs by the traders to follow, the Navajo weavers made their own adaptations that evolved into the exquisite rugs they are famous for. A wide range of patterns and colors and a number of distinct regional styles exist (...

Article

Sandra Sider

Abbreviation for ‘optical art’, referring to painting, prints, sculpture, and textiles exploiting the optical effects of visual perception. The term entered American art vocabulary in 1964, referring especially to two-dimensional structures with strong psychophysiological effects. The reasons for these effects had been explained in three 19th-century treatises: Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Zur Farbenlehre (The Theory of Colors; 1810); Michel-Eugène Chevreul’s De la loi du contraste simultané des couleurs (Simultaneous Contrast of Colors; 1839); and Hermann von Helmholtz’s Physiologische Optik (Physiological Optics; 1855–66).

See also Op art.

Painting was transformed after the mid-19th century, once artists understood the three-receptor theory of vision, and how the mind—not the eye—creates colour. The optical experiences in Op art include after-images, line interference, reversible perspective, chromatic vibration, ambiguous forms, and sculptural superimpositions. Op art awakens questions in the viewer concerning the perceptive processes: ‘As we stand before Op paintings that resist our understanding, we introduce ourselves to our unconscious selves’ (exh. cat. ...

Article

(Willie)

(b New York, Oct 8, 1930).

African American painter and sculptor. Born in Harlem, Jones studied art at the City College of New York beginning in 1950. By 1955 she had completed her degree in Fine Arts and Education, and had two daughters, Michele Faith Wallace and Barbara Faith Wallace. From 1955 to1973 Ringgold taught in the New York City public schools. She spent many summers in Provincetown, MA, painting landscapes. In 1959 she completed a Masters degree in fine arts at City College of New York. Two years later Ringgold made her first trip to Europe, where she visited museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. In 1962 she married Burdette Ringgold and began using his name professionally. Her first political paintings, including The American People series (1963–7), were inspired by the writings of James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) and included the powerful imagery of The Flag Is Bleeding. In 1966...

Article

American, 20th century, female.

Born 1926, in San Francisco.

Sculptor.

Kay Sekimachi studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She gave up graphic arts to become a weaver in 1954 under the direction of Trude Guermonprez. After 1960 she began weaving with nylon filaments, then created her works with elements obtained from three-dimensional transparent shapes....

Article

Native American (Seneca Nation of New York), 21st century, female.

Born 1967, in Seattle.

Installation artist, sculptor, printmaker.

Marie Watt, an artist with Seneca ancestry, chooses to work in the areas of installation, sculpture and lithography to address themes which historically have had an impact on wider indigenous experience, including the ideas of community, continuity and exchange. She was born in Seattle, Washington, in ...