Post by Mellisa Robbins
(Mellisa Robbins’ post is part of a collaboration between artblog and Moore College of Art and Design’s Culture in the Classroom program. Mellisa is one of two students in Terri Saulin’s Professional Practices class chosen by Libby and Roberta to have their posts published on artblog. We look forward to seeing more of Mellisa’s writing on artblog in the future.)
Margo Wolowiec’s Catching Thread at Grizzly Grizzly is a testament to our throwaway culture of social media, and how we make sense of it all. Wolowiec’s woven pieces at first seem like densely layered abstracts, but upon closer inspection, the dark masses reveal themselves as sentences. These are status updates culled from Facebook, and together in the tapestry create an enigmatic sort of prose. The words are arbitrary, some referencing politics or locations, and their format reminds a viewer of scrolling quickly through a Facebook news feed, sort of reading and vaguely processing the words, but not truly caring about what is being posted. The piece seems to pose the question of why we spend so much time nowadays scrolling through trivial information we don’t truly care about. The absurdity here is that impermanent data are being forever woven into an art object like the social network that has woven itself into our daily lives.
Catching Thread is a play upon Richard Serra’s 1968 film “Hand Catching Lead.” While Serra’s video shows his hand trying and often failing to catch falling scraps of lead, Wolowiec’s video, “10 Tries at a Square,” shows the artist attempting to draw a perfect square with a length of thread. Her outcomes are beautiful, quiet abstracts, nothing close to squares, but they speak for themselves as drawings.
Wolowiec’s gesture of drawing with thread is a light and delicate process, and it is interesting to consider the piece in relation to “Hand Catching Lead.” Serra’s work to me has always seemed to be about lightness conveyed through its absence in his steel sculpture, and Wolowiec, in titling the show Catching Thread, seems to have a conversation with Serra about lightness and weight, and typical femininity and masculinity.
When she finishes a square drawing, the artist swipes away the thread with one hand, reminding us of the impermanence of our time. We live in an age of undo buttons, and the luxury of easily deleting our histories on the computer; and in like manner, Wolowiec simply deletes her mistakes and begins again. While watching the video, I was reminded of the ubiquitous iPad commercials in which the action of swiping to the next screen is repeated over and over.
Wolowiec, an artist based in San Francisco, gracefully ruminates upon our online-saturated culture in this exhibit, and leaves her viewers to consider their own relationship with social media. With the ability to say whatever we want in a public forum at any time, and the capability of erasing our words later, Catching Thread questions what we value as important and unimportant to share with others, and the exhibit left this viewer wondering if there is even a distinction left between the two.
Catching Thread is on view now through October 26 at Grizzly Grizzly, located at 319 N. 11th Street.
—Mellisa Robbins will receive her BFA in 2014 from Moore College of Art & Design in Fine Arts, with a focus on fibers. For more information on her work, please visit www.mellisarobbins.com.