Monday, February 15, 2021

"Stitches on the Path to Here" Live on Susan Hensel Gallery on Artsy


Ingrid Restemayer’s Stitches on the Path to Here gathers contemplative pieces of fiber art in a collection of otherworldly quiet, all arranged in uncanny compositions of familiar forms. Working in printmaking, paper and hand-embroidery, the artist creates artwork that announce themselves through color and define themselves through precise composition. Every piece features as its focal point an etching of fauna, often printed on Japanese paper that is then torn and arranged on the artwork. The illustrations of biological forms accumulate into a catalogue of natural moments on the long paper leaves.
Restemayer’s work often appears like the pieces of a book layout reorganized into pure relations between color, rhythm and something like the paragraph block. Running stitches and French knots make up what the artist calls the “code” — the embroidery patterns that often mark her pieces, adding a kind of text to the suggested page. It is a presentation that seeks to be read, even if the precise syntax is occluded.
While the works are often sonorous and serene, they leverage color for full effect. Pieces like “Mirror Bird” generate narrative out of color blocks, even presenting a horizon for the viewer. Still others revel in limited bands of warm hues, like “Sleepy Bear” and “Red Bird.” In these, the red spills out, the edges of the work unable to contain the simple joy of the color. Other work strikes a more reserved and almost intellectual tone. “Pink Elephant” and “Stare” both hold themselves at a distance, with illustrated niches to contain the subjects. These rest in cleanliness and adopt an almost neo-classical sensibility — though these pieces never feel sterile or caught in an enforced regularity. That ability to borrow from stultifying forms like the page of a book without taking on the constrictions is one of the most fascinating elements of the pieces. They’re what one might imagine a text would look like if grown from a seed, rather than constructed on a word processor.
A striking similarity among these collected works is the vertical orientation of the scroll-like artwork. The narrow column serves as a restraint itself, keeping the viewer from seeing everything at once. This not only implies a temporal element but also allows for moments of discovery. While the panorama can be taken in at once, the scroll must be searched, understood and reintegrated by the viewer. As one might expect from the subject matter, Restemayer is deeply influenced by her natural environment. Working out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, her eye is continually drawn to the landscape, it’s gentle sameness that trains the eye to notice the slightest difference — a feature her scrolls embrace.
Despite the current availability of digitally aided sewing and printmaking, Restemayer is committed to a traditional, hand-made process. This pursuit of deliberate, manual creation stands in juxtaposition to the increasing rapidity of information and production cycles in an instantaneous and interconnected society. This desire to slow down thought and perception combines with the steady rhythm of her compositions and the form of the scroll to bring a hush over the viewer. It returns us to the human scale of the moment that rests in the irregular interval of now. The work opens up this space of subtle feeling, much like a whispering voice that invites the listener to lean in and quietly listen.
Stitches on the Path toHere does not reveal its secrets all at once. It prefers, instead, the gradual accumulation of perceptions. It asks the viewer to take their time. In return, a masterful study of our shared visual language emerges gently and by degrees — but only if we are willing to silence ourselves, lean in, and hear what whispers from the surface of the scroll.
Restemayer received her education in fine art at the University of North Dakota and Whitecliffe College of Art and Design in Auckland, New Zealand. She is the recipient of several awards including a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and a Jerome Foundation Emerging Fiber Artist Grant through the Textile Center of Minnesota. Her previous solo exhibitions have appeared at the Penny George Institute, the Nina Bliese Gallery, the Benedicta Arts Center, among many others. – Jonathon M. Clark, independent critic

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