Unravel at Portland’s Maine Museum of Photographic Art with Gail Skedura’s mixed media, patterned portraitures
Do you notice how much we mention aspects of weaving in everyday conversation? How much we talk about the ‘common threads’ through our lives, the very ‘fabric of our beings’, moments that pull at our ‘heart-strings’?
We are all Woven in some way and Gail Skudera‘s show of the same name at the Maine Museum of Photographic Art, communicates this philosophy in a visually stunning way. This upcoming exhibition, curated by MMPA director Denise Froehlich, is a mixed-media feast. Skudera has a long and impressive resume of shows across the states and the world starting in the 80’s; textiles, photography, collage, assemblage, painting – all these techniques and materials have passed through her work. Director Froehlich is enthusiastic and rightfully so, “Talk about expanding the photographic medium, the truly spectacular thing about Skudera’s work is that her process is photographic in nature, and she realizes the imagery employing weaving and construction. There isn’t another artist using this methodology in the State!”
Opening October 3rd, and running until December 30th, visitors to the exhibition will be presented with assemblages, collages, and wall hangings featuring human subjects, known and unknown to the artist. Skudera notes, “Some are personal and some have become personal after working with them for so long. For years I have worked with family photographs and photographs of known subjects. When I began to introduce found photographs that I was in some way ‘taken’ by, it opened up new freedom for me in approaching what was once familiar.”
We were Taken with it too – Skudera presents us with one the most inventive examples of contemporary collage. The manipulation and interpretation of photography is being stretched out of its old familiar format now that digital has become the top dog. Film and printing continue to be used, but in wilder, more abstract, innovative ways than they were initially made for. Her use of photographs as raw material for weaving a base for her work marries the equally analog world of fiber arts, culminating in objects that are as appealing texturally as visually. There is space for the work to breathe, open fretwork here and there, button reference points, you can look at the surface and then sink in deeper. There’s a conceptual element as well, the artist as needleworker, darner, knitter that gives the works a homey familiarity and the color palette evokes a nebulous but nostalgic place in time.