2010 Weave of the week #4: Links
March 14, 2010

Katherine Daniels, "Fence Embroidery With Embellishment."

I enjoy outdoor public art installations,  but few have anything to do with weaving.  So when I find one that does,  I give it special attention.  Several months ago,  I was pleased to read that a non-profit group called the Downtown Alliance funded five public art projects in 2009 to create “a little cheer,  whimsy and excitement”  at some of Lower Manhattan’s many construction sites,  according to Elizabeth H. Berger,  president of the alliance.  Most significant to me was that one of those projects,  Fence Embroidery With Embellishment,  by New York artist Katherine Daniels,  was woven on site (see photo above).

Ms. Daniels and her team wove vinyl strips through fifty-four chain-link fences and embellished the strips with brightly colored spools,  lids,  and other construction materials to create abstract climbing “vines” (detail below).  The fences stretch for 600′ along the East River Bikeway,  from the Wall Street Ferry to the South Street Seaport, and will be there until the end of this year.  For a link to Katherine Daniels’s website, with a map, click here.

Katherine Daniels, "Fence Embroidery With Embellishment" (det). Courtesy BravinLee programs.

Katherine Daniels usually works in beads and embroidery thread,  and I was struck by the similarity of form between her delicate 2009 bead-and-wire piece,  Garden Grid (shown below),  and the Fence Embroidery With Embellishment installation.  Her artist statement says that she is  “interested in the idea of paradise as a garden of beauty and peace that expresses the human need to create and cultivate beauty as a counter to our acts of destruction.”  You can see more of her work here.

Katherine Daniels, "Garden Grid." Courtesy of the artist.

As often happens with my articles,  this one evolved as I wrote it.  In this case,  looking at Katherine Daniels’s installation,  and thinking about chain-link fences for the first time in my life,  brought to mind Liza Lou’s Security Fence,  a silver-beaded,  full-size,  chain-link enclosure,  complete with razor wire,  shown here:

Liza Lou, "Security Fence" (2005-2007). Courtesy L&M Arts

and a detail here:

Liza Lou, "Security Fence: (2005-2007). Courtesy L&M Arts.

And while I was contemplating why an artist would bead a cell,  an observant friend, artist Joan Levinson,  brought to my attention Swedish artist Klas Hällerstrand’s silk-wrapped baseball bat (!) because it reminded her of  Sheila  Hicks’s wrapped pieces (see my posts about Sheila Hicks’s work here and here), and this in turn led me to Hällerstrand’s 2007-2008 work “luttra”  (“to purify”), shown below:

Klas Hallerstrand, "luttra" (2007-2008), metal fence wrapped in cotton yarn, 1.2 x 3 x 3m

The fence isn’t beaded,  but it’s completely wrapped in cotton yarn,  for goodness sake.  Here’s a great close-up of  Mr.  Hällerstrand’s painstakingly wrapped links:

Klas Hallerstrand, "luttra" (2007-2008).

A press release provided by the Galleri Charlotte Lund in Stockholm,  Sweden,  states,  “Klas Hällerstrand’s working process takes an extensive amount of time and care.  He has a great interest for the materials he uses and is captivated by seemingly incompatible elements.”

I was starting to wonder whether writing about,  and meditating on,  chain-link fences had taken me too far from textiles and fiber,  but here’s something else unexpected that popped up in my research.  In 1844,  Charles Barnard built the world’s first wire-netting machine in Norwich,  England,  to produce chain-link fencing by machine;  Norwich was a worsted weaving center,  and his wire-netting machine was based on cloth-weaving looms (read more here).  Now there’s  a link!

Liza Lou update
August 12, 2009

Liza Lou, Continuous Mile

Liza Lou, "Continuous Mile"

This is an update to my April post about Liza Lou’s fascinating beadwork.

Congratulations to Liza Lou. Her recent (2007-2008) beaded sculpture, Continuous Mile (seen above), is on a two-year loan from the artist to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

When I saw this impressive piece at the L&M Arts Gallery in December,  I didn’t think that it could possibly have been beaded until I got close enough to see the sparkle. It is a mile-long length of cotton rope that has been twisted with white glass beads and coiled into a big sculpture approximately 77 inches in diameter by 32 inches in height.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Liza Lou now does her labor-intensive artwork in South Africa with highly skilled Zulu bead workers, and the names of the 44 artisans who were her collaborators on Continuous Mile are listed on the gallery wall.

Continuous Mile can be seen on the second floor of the Met’s Lila Acheson Wallace wing until January 2011.

Liza Lou
April 22, 2009

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Liza Lou - "Born again"

Several months ago, in response to a reader’s comment, I posted a couple of my photos of Liza Lou’s artwork on my gallery page, and ever since then I have been surprised by the number of hits that my blog gets searching for “Liza Lou,” so I figured that for those of you looking for Liza Lou here, I might as well provide an actual article.



I became a fan of Liza Lou’s artwork when I saw her “Beaded Kitchen” at the New Museum, NYC, in 1996.

It was an actual-size kitchen, fully furnished with table, chairs, cabinets, sink, detergent boxes, food, etc.; an ordinary kitchen except that every surface — and every undersurface — was completely covered with sparkling colored beads.

It was an audaciously original idea, brilliantly (literally) executed, and I was smitten. Besides, anyone whose ambition is to “bead the world” has my vote, and she certainly deserves the MacArthur “genius” grant that was awarded to her in 2002.

The next Liza Lou exhibition that I saw was the beaded interior of a full-size trailer (detail below) that was parked inside the dimly lit, cavernous Deitch Projects gallery in 2003.

Liza Lou trailer detail

Liza Lou - Trailer detail

I read online that the outside of the trailer was beaded, too, but I didn’t see it. That isn’t as weird as it sounds, because it was actually a subtly-beaded trailer (!) in a poorly-lit space. You can see the trailer — inside and out — and more of Liza Lou’s early work here.

If I followed the art scene more closely, I might not have been so surprised by some of the new work in her show last winter at L&M Arts in New York. There was a beaded, full-size chain-link fence enclosure (complete with razor wire), and huge coils of beaded cable, but what I didn’t expect were the beautiful wall pieces with sophisticated, complex imagery and beaded/dimensional/textured surfaces.  A detail from one piece is shown below and L&M Arts has an excellent slideshow of images from the exhibition on its website.


Liza Lou - "Offensive/Defensive" 2008, detail


Last I read, Liza Lou is working with Zulu beaders in Durban, South Africa, so here’s an example from an exhibition of Zulu glass beadwork in 2003, and click on the link to see more.

Zulu beaded stripes

Zulu beaded stripes

She must feel right at home.

Update: for more about Liza Lou, see
my latest article