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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Cair Crawford

New York, NY
USA

Cair Crawford, born in 1944 in Syracuse, New York, received a BFA from the University of Buffalo in 1965 and a PhD in philosophy from Columbia University in 2006. She began her art career as a painter in the 1970s producing work informed by Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Indian philosophy. By the 1980s she engaged with Conceptual art practices and the debate about the influence of philosophy on literary and political culture. In the 1990s the work became more searchingly personal, bringing to light beliefs acquired from acculturation and teaching, and deeply internalized beliefs hidden from view. Thereafter, her interest has been drawn to questions about her own attitudes toward the cultural context of fear, love, and anger, and how specific social conditions shape emotion, desire, and thought.

Feminist Artist Statement

My paintings reference romantic notions about what is psychically feminine and symbolize the fear of being seen or being seen looking. More recent works convey a sense of drama, movement, and tension between two separate orientations: masking-out and looking-in.

Hems & Folds, the Knitting Books, and Skirts draw attention to the perpetual overlapping and linkage that bind things together. Folds are mediators that produce creases or seams recognizable in textiles and clothing. Hems are borders, rims, or margins that confine or stitch things down. The ‘text’ inscribed in borders attached to Hems & Folds are added to supplement ‘readings’ of the paintings.

In the history of knitting, early fragments have writing inserted in them. For example, Madame DeFarge, the vengeful tricoteuse in A Tale of Two Cities, records the names of enemies of the revolution in her stitches. The Knitting Books reflect upon this tradition by fabricating stories about time and place in which the concept becomes the narrative. Iterations of a thousand-thousand folds produce ironic commentary on the subversive nature of knitting/writing.

Folds that flare in billowing waves are not simply decorative effects; they create shadows that imitate something in partial darkness. Shadows provide shelter from danger within a part of space for which a source of light or knowledge is cut off. My attention is focused on folds as loopholes, gaps, and errors that come between points of time or events. These small openings are sights of omission that permit observation and provide a means of escape.

<p>Hems: Anno</p>

Hems: Anno

Hems & Folds, Diptych: Fold - acrylic/canvas (60"x60”); Hem - oil/wax/canvas (12"x60”).

Folds bind the appearance of a succession of intervals together; hems double back to stitch them down. Like prosceniums, borders set the stage for making things visible, whether real or imaginary.

The palette for this series has been reduced to black and white, matte, and luminescent mediums, to build upon changes of light and shadow that unfold through slits and a variety of inflections.

Borders supplement a textual element characteristic of folds, writing, and weaving to reflect the over all theme that binds the composite pieces together.

The paintings are to be hung six inches off the floor to facilitate a point of view that extends the act of painting to the viewer and makes the the visible legible as it unfolds.

Hems: Anno

Hems & Folds, Diptych: Fold - acrylic/canvas (60"x60”); Hem - oil/wax/canvas (12"x60”).

Folds bind the appearance of a succession of intervals together; hems double back to stitch them down. Like prosceniums, borders set the stage for making things visible, whether real or imaginary.

The palette for this series has been reduced to black and white, matte, and luminescent mediums, to build upon changes of light and shadow that unfold through slits and a variety of inflections.

Borders supplement a textual element characteristic of folds, writing, and weaving to reflect the over all theme that binds the composite pieces together.

The paintings are to be hung six inches off the floor to facilitate a point of view that extends the act of painting to the viewer and makes the the visible legible as it unfolds.

Hems: Hora

Hems & Folds, Diptych: Fold? (60"x60”); Hem (6"x60”), graphite and pearl palette.

Folds create shadows, and shadows suggest negative things or inferior knowledge. As signs of obscurity, they are often associated with duplicity. Seen from different points of view, shadows preserve traces of the meeting of dark and light, revealing something we didn’t know.

Hems: Die

Hems & Folds

Diptych: (60"x60”) (60"x6”)

The compositions of Hems & Folds are based on excerpts which lie somewhere between theatricality and simple, unrestrained, everyday backdrops. A contrasting palette of graphite and pearl captures changes of mood with the light.

Hems: Time

Hems & Folds

Diptych: fold (60"x60”); hem (6"x60”)

This series is about loopholes and stop-gaps that intervene between things, tie things together and cause an emotional attachment. It is also about time - moving between night and day, through ideas that erupt and fade and vague notions about what determines how things are felt.

Hems: Mora

Hems & Folds

Painting embodies ideas that change through time, positioning and self-awareness. Images having to do with daily existence and dramatic moments suggest action that is never shown and words that are never spoken.

Knitting Books: Black Knit Book

Black Knit Book (Asphaltick Pool) - Dark designs, reiterated crimes, 108 pages.

The Knit Books are supplemental ‘text’ to Hems (hmmms) & Folds. They are a meditation on a thousand-thousand folds and an ironic commentary on the subversive nature of knitting/writing. As a visual language, the Knitting Books read like a succession of singular utterances that go unnoticed until the task is unfurled. The plot line, which builds upon the idea of how actions and ideas fit together, is an inverted narrative about being driven by circumstances toward unforeseen results.

See: Deleuze, Gilles. The Fold, Leibniz and the Baroque. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1993.

The Knitting Books: Red Knit Book

Red Knit Book (Red Sea) - lake with liquid fire, 108 pages.

The Knit Books are color coded and drawn out in a handwritten, wave-like life script. Each story is one of split-identity, balancing between detachment and intensity and between biographical elements and formal aesthetic properties. Time is woven into the work and the work is imbued with the body language of the maker. When called upon to subvert her role, she leaves behind a trail of concerns.

The Knit Books are produced by an obsessively enigmatic logic, that gives new form to a cliche of everyday culture and to defined roles of female art making.

Knitting/writing is as much a convention as it is a taboo. In the history of knitting, early fragments have Arabic written into them. This tradition, which commemorates religious, social, and political views, is essentially a subversive activity. In social history, knitting was a means to treat hysteria and depression; to give women a creative purpose and to keep women productively occupied.

See: Turney, Joanne. The Culture of Knitting. Berg Publishers, 2009.

Galloway, Anne.? “Knitting and Public Politics.” August 8, 2006.

http://www.purselipsquarejaw.org

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139 East 94th Street
New York, NY 10128
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