Saturday, September 16, 2017

Threads at the SC State Library

(Above: Detail from Threads: Gathering My Thoughts, an installation at the South Carolina State Library.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Yesterday was a busy, busy day!  It started at 8:30 in the lobby of the South Carolina State Library and ended in Salisbury, North Carolina at the art reception for my solo show at Waterworks Visual Arts Center.  This blog post covers the installation.  I'll blog about the wonderful evening sometime tomorrow!

 (Above:  Threads: Gathering My Thoughts at the SC State Library.)

A little over a month ago, I started corresponding with Andersen Cook, Statewide Initiatives Coordinator, about an installation for the library focusing on the state's textile history and incorporating reproduction historic images from mill life and industry.  A wonderful collaboration resulted.  Yesterday was "installation day".  It was GREAT!

I showed up with my three, giant leaf bags full of unraveled thread and a bag of supplies.  Andersen Cook had twenty-seven images already mounted on foam-centered board.  We used the library's nine mess-and-aluminum display screens to create three triangular units.

Then, I went to work!

In order to attach the photographs to the screens, I cut small pieces of foam-centered board and stitched a length of heavy-duty thread through each one.

These were hot-glued to the back of each image.

Then, I piled thread onto the screens ...

... and stitched three images onto each individual panel ... straight through the fabric mess ... tied off on all four corners. 

Installing was lots of fun and an excellent example as to how my former incarnations with all this thread were translated into a new, site-specific installation.  (I've had several solo shows called Threads: Gathering My Thoughts ... but no two have ever been alike.  Mostly, I've suspended baskets and had the unraveled thread cascading through them.  This time, no baskets.  This time ... the threads represent more than just the millions of thoughts running through one's mind but the actual material in the historic mill photos!)

All the images were taken in South Carolina and are part of the Library of Congress.  Later, Andersen will be adding descriptions to each one.

This installation officially opens on Monday but is already on the State Library's website.  The write-up reads:

The textile industry had an enormous impact on South Carolina.  From the late nineteenth century through most of the twentieth century, the textile industry dominated the state’s manufacturing.  In the SC State Library’s exhibit “Threads: Gathering My Thoughts” historical images are used to honor South Carolina’s rich textile legacy and teach how the textile industry shaped cultures, demographics and economics in our state. This exhibit includes the artwork of professional studio artist, Susan Lenz, whose work has been juried into numerous national and international exhibits, featured in solo shows all over the United States, and shown on television and in print. 
By combining historical SC textile images with the creativity of Ms. Lenz, thread is used to symbolize the former abundance in Southern textile mills and a physical manifestation of millions of thoughts running through anyone’s brain.  This exhibit explores an ongoing engagement - and entanglement - with fibers. 

I wish I could take credit for the unique use of the clip-on clothes hangers, but this was Andersen's idea!  Additional images and information about South Carolina's textile history are on this nice, wood paneled wall opposite the three, triangular units.

(Above:  The view to the exhibition area from immediately inside the SC Library's main entrance.)

I'm honored to have this opportunity and especially to work with such a professional staff.  This exhibit is open to the public from September 18th through October 27th, weekdays from 8:30 - 5:00.  Artists interested in submitting to exhibit at the South Carolina State Library can find information and an application HERE

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