Kimberly Hahn, Chromatic Variation 1 (Detail), 2013, Site-specific installation at CAF Satellite @ Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara comprised of fabric dye, dowel rods, muslin, monofiliament, paint, plywood, and salt, Dimensions Variable (Installation approximately 98-1/2 x 108 x 72 in.), Commissioned by Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, Courtesy the Artist.
The inspiration for this piece is derived from looking at underwater photography texts as well as physics sites, which discuss how light is absorbed as one descends into the Ocean. Each wavelength of light is absorbed at a different depth in water with longest wavelengths, such as red, absorbed first. As a result the colors are absorbed from red to blue as they exist in the color spectrum. In addition, Oceanographic sites discuss the density of the water as well as the salt content increases as one descends. As each pouch is dipped into paint, the color absorbs into the fabric and minute salt crystals cling to the fabric as the wet liquid part of the colorant evaporates. Hanging at different heights the colored pouches project a feeling of volume and weight while cascading at different heights from red to blue as the piece gets closer to the walls and crannies of the back stairwell. Though inspired by scientific phenomenon, this work takes an intuitive, poetic approach to representing the feel of being absorbed in liquid as salt saturates the experience and color becomes de-saturated upon descent.
Re: SBMA “Slave to Fashion: Yinka Shonibare and Printed Textile History” talk by Starr Siegele, Adjunct Curator of Prints, Allentown Art Museum, and Independent Scholar. Printed toile was mentioned with stories of the plight of the slaves. Abolitionists used them as curtains, bedding, wall fabric to comment or make a statement. How subtle this was – a beautiful house decoration with a political statement. It made me wonder why this type of commentary went out of style? Are we a society of no comment, because we “tastefully” use solid colors, stripes, or bucolic scenes? I’d like to see this type of in-home commentary come back in style. In looking for a example of the printed toiles mentioned during the talk, I found a contemporary designer named Sheila Bridge who created a new toile Harlem Toile de Jouy. I see it as one next step in the dialogue of this tradition through the control of imagery. Sheila Bridge’s Harlem Toile de Jouy A funny personal side note to my comments is that solids, stripes, etc could be commentary in my house since I have an abstract agenda. : )