OK, I got the wordplay out of the way in the blog title. But seriously, “Art Quilts Year XVII: Integrating a Paradox,” a juried show of more than 60 textile art pieces, invites some rather deep contemplation.
As the Chandler Center for the Arts explains, a paradox consists of two concepts, both true yet in clear opposition to each other. To bring them together into one whole idea would neutralize them, so it is better to consider how they complement each other.
Quilt-making is a paradox to me: on the one hand, the quilts made by our grandmothers are lovingly pieced and stitched and worthy on their own. On the other hand, quilts in the world of contemporary textile art have taken on entirely new elements in a world apart from the traditional. The two art-making endeavors cannot be joined, and they need not be.
If there is any common thread in the Chandler Center for the Arts show, it’s the sheer joy taken in the imaginative use of textiles and stitching — bringing in digital photography, line drawings, printing on cloth, 3-D qualities, and other techniques along the way.
All in all, there’s quite a ragbag of subjects: celestial bodies, optical illusions, the Rorschach inkblot, sunsets, quantum physics, urban decay, sirocco winds, to name a few.
Take “Armageddon,” by Kaci Kyler, which is, yes, about the end of the world — represented by dark swatches of color that interrupt a pattern of lighter patches. The artist’s statement says the work is about repetition and variation, order and chaos, darkness and light. (Oooh! Some of my favorite paradoxes!)
Quite attractive is Gloria Hansen’s “Another Journey,” in which the artist re-purposes photos of an underground train station, close-ups of architectural elements, and a replica of a flying machine. The photographic prints on fabric are then cut and rearranged into an almost dreamlike image.
In “Echoes,” Cathy Kleeman explores several opposing forces, through fabric squares that are punctuated by a blue, graffiti-like swirl. In “You Can’t There From Here,” K Velis Turan studies a huge freeway interchange from a bird’s-eye view; the piece uses gray material and stitching to good effect.
If you check out the exhibit, get ready to spend some time contemplating possible meanings to take away from the more complex pieces. As you might have gathered, the quilts run the gamut from pure abstract pieces to those with design/decorative approaches to those that are narrative. The artist biographies and statements are quite helpful, although the paradoxes in some works still puzzle me.
The arts center is at 250 N. Arizona Ave., with hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The show runs through January 20, 2013. Also, there is a smaller art quilt invitational currently at the nearby Vision Gallery in Chandler’s municipal building, 10 E. Chicago Street.