Critics’ Picks

Portable City (detail), 2008, stainless-steel and wooden vitrines, thread, wire, and pins in forty-seven parts, dimensions variable.


Anne Wilson

Rhona Hoffman Gallery
1711 West Chicago Avenue
January 21–March 1

The fineness of thread belies its functionality. In Anne Wilson’s practice, though, the strength of thread is paramount, but not for its ability to bind other objects. Here, thread, and sometimes wire filament, is knit, crocheted, and wound to create independent structures that sometimes struggle to hold themselves up and other times fall down with grace. In Portable City (all works 2008), the resulting forms are displayed in a series of Plexiglas cases mounted on spindly metal legs and clustered, mazelike, around the main gallery. The work’s title, mode of display, and domed forms bring to mind architectural models, but what is most exciting about Wilson's work is the intersection of the artist's extremely refined technique, the materials' relative tensile strength, and the overall shock of the Day-Glo colors. Slack strands manage to stand up, while taut ones fall down. Black wire filaments knot together in a jumble of upright thumbs. Egg-yolk-yellow thread weaves a loose, gossamer nest. The front room houses a scaled-up version of this technical play, but instead of being strung from rows of small nails, the phosphorescent fibers of Wind-Up stretch between waist-high poles, forming the warp of a gallery-size loom. Woven by the artist and a group of performers over five days, Wind-Up is especially striking when seen through the sidewalk windows—reducing the gallery to nothing more than its essence: a large version of a lit-up vitrine.