Susan Barrett Merrill: Handwoven Masks and Emi Ito: Handwoven Scarves: Exhibition: May 10-June 30, 2011
Susan Barrett Merrill is a sculptor and educator who has been weaving over several decades. The exhibition features Merrill’s distinctive Zati masks, which are woven flat on a hand loom, then sculpted into three-dimensional masks and headdresses. Each mask is embellished with felted, spun and hand-dyed ornamentations created to speak about dreams, mythology, and our relationship with Mother Earth. Merrill often teaches weaving in community projects, which she will discuss in her June 12 talk. This Winter, Merrill lived on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where she shared and learned much from the native people about weaving and other fiber crafts. She also served as an artist-in-residence in Bermuda, where she set up a loom for community use in the center of the largest village, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to contribute to various woven tapestries and shapes. The process of this island stay and residency, and their many tangible and intangible effects, are at the center of Merrill's gallery talk, which will be accompanied by a slideshow of colorful imagery of island life.
Bath weaver, Emi Ito, moved to the United States from Japan 12 years ago and began free-style Japanese weaving known as "Saori" after her arrival. The Saori aesthetic encourages weavers to improvise their designs and materials, rather than weave a decided pattern. Ito uses both colorful yarns and earthy hand-dyed fibers in her work and considers the process of weaving to be as much part of the art as the finished textile. "Saori" is a Zen concept meaning “each thing has its own unique quality.” The Saori loom, created by Japanese weaver Misao Jo in the late 1960's, is often used in nontraditional art settings such as schools, hospitals, assisted-living facilities and rehabilitative centers because of its approachability.