THE ORDER OF THINGS
To anyone giving this journal the time of day, I am contributing these weekly blurbs to my site in a desperate attempt to push myself intellectually. My short term goal is to stay interested in a single art/design topic long enough to create a collection of work that I am proud of as well as improve my writing skills. It’s a mental block I have to push through. If you’re still reading this, let’s move right along.
note: The human eye can distinguish roughly 10 million colors with 120 million rods responding simply but acutely to changes in light and darkness and 6 million cones determining subtle color variation.
The work of artist Ann Toebbe depicts the domestic through a flattened birds eye view, typically utilising cut paper, colored pencil, paint, and gouache on paper. Her paintings suggest a lifestyle through the neatly arranged objects in an individual’s home. Her titles further explain the narrative of these concealed characters in works like, “The Ex-Wife’s Plants And Things.” Toebbe’s angles are effective despite the illusory shift in perspective that is required to view the front facing side of most objects. The arrangement of shapes and colors, while sometimes abstract and loose, find a way to ground the work. Most vividly she maintains an intriguing balance of order and personality. Her use of color and pattern both play large roles in structuring her work and liberating it from the banality of expectation. I especially enjoy how she depicts textiles with so much life and luster. No matter the type of home, these textile elements are critically important and provide immense texture and depth to her work.
In an interview Toebbe did with a contemporary art blog in 2013, she mentions,
“I stumbled into painting interiors because it felt comfortable and so many things about living as an artist made me uncomfortable. -- Painting interiors calms me down and allows me to focus on formal concerns; composition, color, shape, texture.”
I definitely find myself relating to her statement about the sort of order she finds in her work. I need just enough order to create something freely. What I really enjoy about working in textiles are those constraints and limitations – they offer just enough space to play with color and form while still pushing the boundaries of uniformity in an intrinsically uniform practice. Everything about textiles is structured and somewhat utilitarian – maybe Loos would disagree when you think of all the added frills. But really, at its core textiles is a craft centered around serving people’s most basic needs – warmth from the cold, a towel to dry off, a rug to stop a draft, etc. This need for textiles as a functional craft leaves it generally excluded from the fine art categories including painting, sculpture, film, etc. Which is something that I've began to think about more often especially in regards to the choices I make within the textile practice. Consideration to the history of quilting, weaving, dying, etc. will be important to how I use the art form in relaying new meaning. Another point Toebbe made in the interview was her own intent to "ride the balance between modern and folk and representation and abstraction." A good reminder that anything you make and put into the world exists on a spectrum and the only way to position yourself is to know where you fit into a much bigger picture.
Last note: So much love to my favorite diva: Monica Baker, on her 24th birthday. Happy day to you DJ Monz.