Ground Floor Gallery
October 1 through 29
by Erica Ciccarone
This October brings treats that are both beautiful and strange at Ground Floor Gallery, when Nashville native and fiber artist Shana Kohnstamm unveils Touched, an exhibition of soft sculpture. Kohnstamm has assembled an international roster of fiber artists, most of whom she met through social media, to showcase a range of haptic sensibilities, aesthetics, and forms unique to the medium.
Kohnstamm worked as a painter before sinking her fingers into tufts of wool. For the past five years, she has experimented with wool felting techniques, creating a menagerie of figurative sculptures that are in turns mythological, subterranean, sexual, and aquatic.
Touched will show work by Kohnstamm and twelve others from as near as Atlanta and as far as the Netherlands. The artists use traditional craft processes like beading, embroidery, weaving, wrapping, and crochet to wrestle with metaphysical concerns. “I am fascinated by what it’s like to be a person; who we think we are, how we got here, and what we can’t know about each other,” writes Seattle’s Moxie Liberman in her exhibition statement. Despite the form’s traditional roots, several artists work from satellite or microscopic images or include LED lights in their work.
Leisa Rich, hailing from Atlanta, will show Disco Metastasis, a squishy, brain-like metallic-pink behemoth that sprouts hard, white tendrils from trunk-like appendages. It’s as if an infected human organ has taken on a life of its own; bulbous and lumbering, it retains the glitter and shine of its youth. Rich’s sculpture exemplifies the sheer pleasure of soft sculpture: its materiality allows for a tactile tease (it’s art, so you can’t touch it!) while it couches grim tidings in a sparkly, fibrous finish.
Zoë Williams, from New Orleans, contributes needle-felted creatures that are mounted on frames like taxidermied bucks. Working entirely in white felt, Williams crafts animals that you almost recognize: Mara is a rabbit-like albino with the short ears of a fox and hand-painted confetti eyes. Mounted on the wall, she majestically watches over us from a place that seems straight out of midnight imaginings.
Touched will also include pieces from Morwenna Catt, Andrea Graham, Sonya Yong James, Kit Lane, Kirsten Lund, Kyoko Matsuyama, Stephanie Metz, Jennifer Moss, and Astrid Polman. Kohnstamm and Breanna Rockstad-Kincaid will lead felting workshops in October to accompany the exhibition.