Jeremy F. van der Heiden
This past Wednesday, March 28, the Somerville Arts Council held the latest event of the Salon Series at the Arts at the Armory on Highland Avenue. This month’s edition, titled Fiber, was curated by Alexis Kochka, who focused on the art of two contemporary artists, Jessie Vogel and Joetta Maue.
Jessie Vogel presented her work first, and took the full house of attendees at the Armory Café through the evolution of her work as a sculptor. The artist explained one of her first projects that combined fibers with juxtaposed materials as being a company she started with a boy who had a collection of toy robots. Vogel began to hand-make stuffed robots for five years, until the two decided to get 100 more manufactured.
She described some of the more powerful experiences she has had throughout her career, such as one residency at Elsewhere, a museum located in a thrift store in Greensboro, NC, where she developed a love for fibers. Additionally, a five-year residency in New Orleans, LA, helped the sculptor hone her passion for the fantastical elements of play and childhood through the creation of Mardi Gras and Halloween costumes with an artist local to the Big Easy.
Vogel, who cited French-American artist Louise Bourgeois as one of her biggest influences, went on to describe how her current pieces work to establish a fantastical reality through sculptures, and that the process of embedding soft fibers onto and into tough forms creates a dualistic complication, one that can be found in many stages of life.
The artist will be presenting at her thesis show at the MassArt on Huntington Avenue, April 26, at 6 p.m. Additionally, those interested can find her work at her website, www.jessievogel.com.
Next, Joetta Maue, a Brooklyn, NY, native who just moved up to Somerville this year, explained the evolution of her work with fibers. Where Vogel focuses on sculpture with fibers, Maue uses various found fabrics to embed short prose, single words, and various other poetic expressions through intricate stitching. The artist’s main influences are personal, familial, and spousal relationships, as she views these experiences as having the most dramatic fluctuations through time.
Maue noted that she had always been a photographer, and that her first work with fibers was an embroidery that was evoked for conceptual reasons, focusing on 75-100 words about healing. Her work is highly autobiographical, and explores modern femininity through the scope of love-filled relationships. Additionally, the artist noted that her change to fibers and embroidery helped her establish a passion for large-scale works.
One such project was an installation at Governor’s Island in New York that involved clotheslines filled with her work, which she described as being a highly physical and interactive experience with the audience.
Her current project is a series of love letters, dealing with voices and sides of a relationship through embroidery into only found textiles. Maue stressed the importance of her decision to only use found fabrics, as she is adding to an already established piece of art in the form of the chosen textiles.
While Maue does not have a local show on the horizon, the artist will have exhibits in Brooklyn this June, and Indiana this September. Interested parties can find more of her work at www.littleyellowbirds.blogspot.com, or her website www.joettamaue.com.
The Somerville Arts Council will continue to host the Salon series on the fourth Wednesday of the month through June, all taking place at the Arts at the Armory Café. The series involves one Somerville artist curating artists to establish discussions with local art-enthusiasts.