Coming Soon–Bridge 11: Lia Cook

Posted January 31, 2012 in Blog

I am pleased to report that after a relatively smooth installation process this week (there are always some bumps along the way), the curatorial team at HCCC has finished installing Bridge 11: Lia Cook. When I went home for the day yesterday, there were only two pieces left that needed to be hung, and I came in this morning to find that Anna Walker, Curator, and Susie Silbert, Curatorial Fellow, had finished the installation. The exhibition is exquisite. I have been looking forward to it since the proposal was brought to the exhibitions committee meeting last year, and I am especially delighted that this show and HCCC will be a part of FotoFest 2012.

Above, clockwise from top left: Susie Silbert (HCCC Curatorial Fellow) up on the genie lift during the installation of Bridge 11: Lia Cook. Partial view of Bridge 11: Lia Cook at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Ashley Powell (HCCC Curatorial Assistant) and Anna Walker (HCCC Curator) on the genie lift while installing Bridge 11: Lia Cook at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Photos by Ashley Powell.

Lia Cook has been on the forefront of the textile-arts and craft communities for decades due to her visual innovations, as well as her technical mastery. Bridge 11 includes large-scale weavings of photographs created on an electronic Jacquard loom. The information present in each photograph has been translated into a computerized code for the loom to read. This is similar to the way a computer is able to break down a digital photograph into pixels, or tiny portions of information that construct the image when combined. The weavings present the viewer with traditional aspects of weaving, such as texture and pattern, as well as the intrinsic qualities of photographs, including time and memories. Cook’s work also investigates human vision, representation, and basic human emotional reactions.

Bridge 11 was organized by the Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC) in Pittsburgh, PA, and Cook’s work is part of the 11th biennial Bridge Exhibition Series. The series was first presented in 1988 to establish and heighten the public’s awareness of the powerful work being produced by contemporary artists. SCC has presented solo exhibitions by 28 artists working in a broad range of craft media, including clay, metal, fiber, wood and glass.

As Anna, Susie, and I unpacked the work and ascended in the genie lift to hang the weavings on the walls and from the ceilings, I started thinking about the Bridge Series and began to wonder how it started, the way in which artists were selected, and why the title was chosen. I decided to contact the exhibitions department at SCC to learn more. Kate Lydon, the Director of Exhibitions, kindly took the time to speak with me earlier this week.

Above images: Susie Silbert and Anna Walker in the large gallery installing Bridge 11: Lia Cook Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Photos by Ashley Powell.

Some of the first topics we spoke about were the series’ origin, the mission, and the significance of the title. Lydon has been at SCC for quite a while and informed me that, in the early years of this series, the dialogue about the divide between craft and fine art was growing immensely. Since then, she believes this conversation has started to fall by the wayside and isn’t as significant. With this in mind, the series had a goal to bridge the gap and blur the lines between craft and fine art, to show high-quality work by mid-career artists working in the traditional craft media. When I asked her whether the original mission still stands today, she responded by explaining that the divide is not highlighted as much, because the conversation has subsided; however, this series and the title provide an opportunity to reference it historically.

The idea of showing mid-career artists goes back to the title of the series and the theme of a bridge. The idea was to explore the gap between early and late-career craft artists. So, not only is the bridge used to lessen the gap between craft and fine art, but also generations of makers.

Lydon informed me about SCC’s selection process and how they search for artists not only creating high-quality works but also creating with a concept behind the work. The processes the artists are using are taken into consideration. Since the exhibition is comprised of three solo-artist shows, exhibiting work of different scale and media is important. The diversity and contrast helps to highlight the uniqueness of each artist’s work.

We are very excited to be a participating venue for Bridge 11: Lia Cook, and we hope you will join us for the opening reception this Friday, February 3, 5:30 – 8:00 PM.

Bridge 11: Lia Cook will be on display February 4 – May 13, 2012, in the large gallery, along with Transference: Andy Paiko & Ethan Rose in the small gallery. Alyssa Salomon–The Handmade Print will be on view February 4 – April 8, 2012, in the Artist Hall.

–Ashley Powell, HCCC Curatorial Assistant