Critics’ Picks

Laura Gipson, Stitch House, 2007, lathe, wire, and metal wheels, 46 x 25 x 9".

New Orleans

“stitch”

Antenna Gallery
3718 St. Claude Avenue
September 13–October 19

Despite this exhibition’s title and all-female list of local participants, curator Susan Gisleson presents a narrative that reaches beyond simple gender declaratives to richness, subtlety, and irony. The metaphor of the stitch—a process turned object—provides seemingly infinite points of interface between artist and material, and stitches themselves serve as agents of restoration and re-creation, whether it be through mending a lost seam or fashioning a new habitation.

Life and death, creation and destruction, are more than simply overused conceptual themes when considered in the midst of an inescapably incongruous New Orleans landscape—from life among the ruins. The fusion of opposites that threatens an already tenuous equilibrium is evident in works like Stitch House, 2007, by Laura Gipson. A towering wooden structure held together by violent wire sutures and resting on metal casters, it recalls elements of regional shotgun architecture while also bearing an unmistakable resemblance to caskets. The top nearly topples over on this exaggerated container for both the living and the dead, its balancing act playfully imperiled by the overall mobility of the work. The strange skirted, larval, and candlelike forms of Anne Boudreau’s sculptures also flirt with this mortal existence. In 3 wishes, 2008, a trio of seemingly weightless forms with warmly ocher-colored holders fan out around curving wicks like floral anatomy. Sharply contrasted with the nearly spiritual vigilance of Boudreau’s work is the clever naturalism found within Jenny LeBlanc’s solo performance piece Cuts, 2008. The viewer/voyeur is left with a fascinating installation comprising the aftermath of the artist’s surgically obsessive printmaking run. The inherently self-conscious and obsessive nature of the stitch is also beautifully brought to light by the thick wall-based works of Gina Phillips and Christine Sauer, the rich texture and symbolism of Cynthia Scott’s pomegranate-skinned vessel, and the intricate and elaborate phantasmagoric installation work of Kourtney Keller.