Detroit-based multimedia artist Margo Wolowiec’s first exhibition, Still Water, Circling Palms, at Marlborough Contemporary is a full-force manifestation on the merger of craft and digital technology. Covering the gallery’s spacious ground floor, the artist’s tapestry paintings are semi-abstract representations of computer screen shots, abundantly-colored plants, densely-blue skies or wave-strewn seascapes. Made from handwoven polymers, linen, dye sublimation ink and acrylic dye, these hallucinatory works convey dream-like collages of her various source materials, inviting the viewer to closely inspect the formation of each thread within the larger frame.
The creation of such intricate juxtapositions emanates from a studious process. Starting with searching for images online, Wolowiec digitally manipulates her findings and prints them onto heat-sensitive paper before transferring them again to her fabric components. The impressions of these images on woven polymer threads are distorted by unraveling and re-weaving the threads, and when stitched onto canvas in its final stage, ultimately conveys a kinetic vibrancy stemming from the singularity of each thread and the unity of the overall tapestry as a physical narrator of sorts. Reminiscent of glitches on a computer screen, the composition of threads creates poetic errors that complicate their original contents while revealing fluid representations of color and form. Beneath her mesmerizing visuals, Wolowiec delivers strong arguments about labor, consumerism, and natural disasters.
The artist not only questions the warped balance between physical labor and technological comfort in her equally laborious and digital work, but she also embeds alarming notes about the deteriorating conditions of our natural habitat. Viewers will notice screen shots of weather forecast graphics updating the viewer on extreme weather conditions, posed next to images of bursting sea levels or blasting thunderstorms in grey skies. Hands plunged into water, or caressing natural elements are also discernible to the sharp eye. In other cases, images of joyous floral arrangements and abstracted smears of bright colors occupy Wolowiec’s dense mixture of sources. The alarming content of her captivating threads may be somewhat reserved at first, but closer inspection and attention reveal the urgency of the issues the artist brings back to our attention.
Margo Wolowiec: Still Water, Circling Palms is on view at Marlborough Contemporary through August 3, 2018.
Margo Wolowiec: Still Water, Circling Palms at Marlborough Contemporary [Exhibition Page]