Intangible Threads

Intangible Threads

Furen Dai, Nina Earley, Diana Jean Puglisi

April 27 - May 13

Reception: Saturday, May 6th, 2-5pm

400 Years Pots detail 2

Furen Dai, 400 Years Pots, ceramic, video, hair, 20"x20"x9', 2016

Earley_02_Memory+Fragments+17

Nina Earley, Memory Fragments 176"x6", cyanotype on silver gelatin print from hand-drawn negative with stitched lines, 2016

Slit

Diana Jean Puglisi, Slitorganza, spandex, denim, chiffon, thread, 15”x11”, 2016

Intangible Threads brings together the work of three artists whose mixed-media practices incorporate sewing as a means for the preservation of memory. “Carrying a thread” describes continuity from one idea or passage to the next. Here, we look at this phrase literally and metaphorically, as sewing both fuses parts into a whole, and acts as a tool for maintaining and cultivating tradition. For example, making clothing, quilts, and shelter with needle, thread, and hide or cloth, are historical and monumental ways through which sewing has provided the fabric for settled society. Physically, the in and out pattern of simple stitching repeats as it moves forward, thus referencing its past with each new mark. In this exhibition, Furen Dai, Nina Earley, and Diana Jean Puglisi utilize thread in combination with ceramic, paper, photographic processes, and fiber, in manners that propagate history; both personal, and cultural.

In her video and ceramic sculpture work, Dai comments on women’s strength and subjection in the Hunan Province of China, through a specific cultural language phenomenon called NüShu. Her nine-foot tall “400 Years Pots” incorporates glazed sculptural forms, braided hair, and peep-holes through which videos can be viewed. As the women featured in the films sew themselves into the sculpture, Dai remarks on tradition, identity, and production.

In her video and ceramic sculpture work, Dai comments on women’s strength and subjection in the Hunan Province of China, through a specific cultural language phenomenon called NüShu. Her nine-foot tall “400 Years Pots” incorporates glazed sculptural forms, braided hair, and peep-holes through which videos can be viewed. As the women featured in the films sew themselves into the sculpture, Dai remarks on tradition, identity, and production.

Meanwhile, Puglisi flirts with garment construction to create soft forms that are anthropomorphic, yet ephemeral. Applying the language of minimalism, she stitches shapes together abstractly with close concern for color tone, opacity, movement and texture. She attentively creases, drapes, and seams towards installations and sculptural yet painterly assemblage. Puglisi is inspired to use sewing as a tool by her maternal lineage.

Intangible Threads subtly investigates heritage from three artists’ perspectives. Its palette is dreamy; blues, neutrals, teal, and gold, which contributes to a meditative and respectful tone. Additionally, among its layers, it remarks on communication, human connection, and feminism.

FUREN DAI

Statement: Furen Dai's artwork is fueled by her research on a secret women’s language called NüShu (Woman Script), which originated as a secret code for communication among females in Hunan Province of China. Through research she discovered that though the language has lost its functionality, women who know the language have been pressured into performing their cultural activities as entertainment for tourists for menial wages. Dai presents a language factory with her video work, in which the act of producing a secret women’s language becomes an art object to sell to people who don't have access to the meaning of the language. Dai also addresses language and literature associated with traditional Chinese culture more broadly in her work, and is engaged in the discourse and exchange associated with existing between two cultures.

Bio: Dai is a Chinese artist, currently living in Boston, MA. She graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University with an undergraduate degree in Russian in 2010, and received her MFA from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 2016. She exhibits extensively both regionally and internationally.

Website: http://furendai.squarespace.com/

NINA EARLEY

Statement: Growing up in two countries on two continents has resulted in Nina Earley’s status as a constant but invisible foreigner. She translates this feeling in her work by creating spaces that reveal specific parts of a story while purposefully leaving others hidden. By making use of memories of places that she knows well, she creates abstracted maps that allow the viewer to dwell in a space of remembering. The lines are drawn from walks that now exist only in her memory; one can never find his or her place in them. In drawing these maps she hopes to combat a fear of forgetting that looms continuously, yet intangibly, overhead.

Bio: Earley was born in Basel, Switzerland. She received her BA in International Relations, Economics, and Fine Art from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada in 2008, and her MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley University College of Art and Design in 2014. Most recently she was the first Artist-In-Residence at The Umbrella Community Arts Center in Concord, MA and now continues her studio practice in the Boston area.

Website: http://www.ninaearley.com/

DIANA JEAN PUGLISI

Statement: Diana Jean Puglisi arrives at her works through research into her maternal line; one grandmother was a lacemaker in 1940s Croatia, and the other was a seamstress in Brooklyn, New York. She also considers phenomenology, color theory, the history of textiles and cultural rituals. Though she does not engage with sewing in a utilitarian sense, it has become a sculptural tool, a conceptual action, and an invaluable connection to her personal history. Puglisi questions how art history is written, and specifically reacts to the male-constructed identity put forth within Minimalism. She references artists Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt as pioneers of that genre, and inspirations.

Puglisi aims to break boundaries between artistic disciplines with her own work; between masculinity and femininity, and reality and fantasy. Taking on the actions that our bodies do, her soft sculptural forms undulate in space; some float, some drape or bend to reach off the wall. Through mimicking our curves, her work probes at how we define our bodies and actions. Her pieces expel a seriousness; they are thought-provoking and evoke the absent body, yet they are, at the same time, an awkward brand of sexy. 

Bio: Puglisi was born in Brooklyn, NY. She received a 2017 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In 2016, she received an MFA in Visual Art from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Beker Family Scholar), and in 2011, received a BFA in Painting and Drawing from William Paterson University. She holds a certificate from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Post-Baccalaureate Program. Diana has participated in residencies at Vermont Studio Center (August 2016, Artist Grant), Big Red & Shiny (2016), and Gallery 263 (2015). Her work has been exhibited at subSamson, Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts, Bakalar and Paine Galleries, and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and she looks forward to a forthcoming three-person exhibition at SOIL! Gallery in Seattle, WA in April 2018.  She currently resides and creates in New Jersey.

Website: https://www.dianapuglisi.com/