Final Weeks to See Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand closed on November 25, 2013. This visually interactive exhibition presented 14 contemporary artists, born between the 1930s and 1960s. Their works surprise the eye while challenging and intriguing our powers of perception.

These masters of alchemy transform materials ranging from anticipated to astonishing. Using time-honored textile techniques—embroidery, quilting, weaving, netting, crochet, coiling and ikat—the artists push them to unexpected extremes, or they invent new methods to achieve their creative vision. Ranging from Pop Art to present day, the sculptures, paintings, and imagery achieved by their magic span more than 30 years of creativity.

See the exhibition, here, in the slideshow.

Standing Figure appears to morph from or dissolve into seemingly unstable and unlikely materials: burlap, resin and sand. The artist’s earlier works were large self-named Abakans: woven hangings and environments created from rough materials This work marks a transition to her free-standing sculptural figures, now frequently made in groups and of bronze.

Magdalena Abakanowicz (Polish, b. 1930), Standing Figure, 1981, Resin and sand on burlap, Neusteter Textile Collection: 1985 Collectors’ Choice, H 65”, 1985.364

Olga de Amaral (Colombian, b. 1932) Notas 2 (detail shown) 2005 Woven linen and cotton with applied gesso, parchment, gold leaf and acrylic paint Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift from the Volunteer Endowment Acquisition Fund in honor of Imelda DeGraw W 67” x H 41" 2008.893 Woven strips of cotton and linen become a shimmering chimera through the application of gesso, parchment, gold leaf and paint. The hanging changes its appearance as one walks by. Acquired in honor of former textile curator Imelda DeGraw (1924-2008), Notas 2 joins two other works by Olga de Amaral in the collection: an early interlace piece, Muro Triple y Lila ref. 59, and a small transitional work, Fragmento Once, one of the first in which de Amaral combines weaving with other materials, including gold leaf. See the introductory gallery image for a full view of this piece.
By embellishing sturdy found industrial objects with seemingly delicate crocheted metal lace, the artist prompts a dialog with the viewer, investigating perceptions of manufactured and handmade as well as masculine and feminine.

Tracy Krumm (American, b. 1963), Specimen: Giant Needle and Specimen: Spool of Lace, 1999, Metal, wood, crocheted wire, Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds from various donors, by exchange, H 13”, Diameter 4.5”, 2000.7, .8

In the language spoken by the indigenous Huichol people of Mexico, nierika signifies both the cosmic passageway and barrier between ordinary and otherworldly realities. Composed of five knotted-net panels, the resist dye and silver gilt threads that make-up the central spiral form of Nierika appear and disappear as the viewer changes his or her position.

Rebecca Medel (American, b. 1947), Nierika, 1998, Knotted net of cotton and indigo resist-dyed linen with silver leaf, Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Alice Dodge Wallace, H 83” x W 45", 2003.986

Lia Cook (American, b. 1941) Face Maze: Tera 2007 Woven cotton and rayon Neusteter Textile Collection: Museum purchase, by exchange W 52” x H 46" 2011.279 Fascinated by the way viewers respond differently to photographic images and textured weavings, Cook blends the two media. From a distance, the image of her niece is clearly visible, but as one approaches, it gradually dissolves into a woven maze. The artist continuously experiments with new technologies and ways to translate her images, simultaneously seeking to make the structure visible and palpable while transforming the image into a physical object.
Polly Barton (American, b. 1957) Mind Stream 2005 Warp ikat, silk and metal thread; silk eccentric weft insertions Lent courtesy of the artist H 33.5” x W 33.5" TL-29327 The artist symbolically sees her thoughts drifting through a continually changing environment. The optical fluctuations inherent to ikat—a technique that involves resist dyeing the warp thread before weaving—and the glistening quality of the metal thread create and enhance the amorphous surroundings.

Jane Mathews (American, b. 1941)

DAM Crazy (detail shown)


Paper quilt with machine stitching and cotton backing

Neusteter Textile Collection: Helen Strange Patterson Memorial Fund and funds by exchange from Katherine Hicks

W 59” x 47.5”


Using images from the museum members’ magazine, On & Off the Wall, Mathews creates a paper quilt celebrating the Denver Art Museum. The composition is her adaptation of a quilt pattern: the circular motifs contain images of textiles from the museum’s collection and protectively wrap around other objects from the collection or the architecture of the museum itself. See the introductory gallery image for a full view of this piece.

Arlette Rose Gosiewski (American, b. 1941) Reception at Batschelet Hall 1982 Appliquéd fabrics with embellishments Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Mrs. Patricia Rickman W 70” x H 60" 1983.3 Arlette Rose Gosiewski combines fact and imagination in her intricate pictorial narratives that she calls “appliqué tapestries.” Here she presents her vision of a wedding reception as it might have taken place years ago in Batschelet Hall on Main Street in Littleton, Colorado. The figural groupings, enlivened by carefully chosen details, imply additional stories. Even the glint of the bride’s ring suggests a happy life and sets a joyous tone.
Gugger Petter (Danish, b. 1949; resides in US) Dog Barking at Two Women 2008 Woven hemp and newspaper with paint Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds from Mary Dean Reed and Fortunee Morrison, by exchange W 78” x H 54" 2008.894 Petter turns newspaper into her palette. She “weaves” tubes of selected and prepared newsprint to capture slice-of-life moments with bravura. Color is added via paint, and some details, such as the dog’s collar, are rendered in three dimensions.
Carol Eckert (American, b. 1945) Beware of Cranes 2010 Coiled cotton over wire Neusteter Textile Collection: Museum purchased with funds from Salon du Musée W 18” x H 12.5" 2011.270 Using a technique that is normally associated with basketry, Eckert creates an animated menagerie. The detailed coiled birds and animals represent fables and stories that unfold in compositions combining the intricacy of an illuminated manuscript with the immediacy of a pop-up book.
Cindy Hickok (American, b. 1936) Tea with Good Friends 2010 Free motion hand machine stitched rayon embroidery; colored pencil Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds from Miss Leah Helfer, by exchange W 15.25” x H 11" 2010.385 Hickok adapts iconic figures from Western paintings to create humorous compositions using an ingenious combination of free motion hand machine embroidery executed on dissolvable fabric.
Norma Minkowitz (American, b. 1937) Legs I 1974 Crocheted cotton over plastic Neusteter Textile Collection: Acquired by exchange H 5.5” x Diameter 5.5" 2007.1 A visual pun, Legs I echoes the L'eggs-brand pantyhose concept of leg and egg together. Minkowitz started with the egg-shaped pantyhose holder, then covered it with numerous tiny crocheted legs.
Carol Shinn (American, b. 1948) Summer Mud 2005 Freestyle machine embroidery, cotton and polyester thread on cotton-polyester fabric Neusteter Textile Collection: Funds from Mr. Henry Allard, Mrs. Frank Taylor, by exchange W 18” x H 13.25” 2010.386 Shinn has developed freestyle hand machine embroidery into a painterly art form. Layering different colors of stitches to impart depth and detail, she likens her process to drawing by moving paper under a stationary pencil. Although her work begins with taking photographs from which Shinn forms her composition – whether a close up or a panorama – she delves beyond the appearance of her subjects to elicit their very essence, here mud forming after a summer rain in Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico.
Chimney Rock 2010 Freestyle hand machine stitched cotton and polyester thread on cotton-polyester fabric Neusteter Textile Collection: Neusteter Institute Fund, by exchange W 43.5” x H 16.5” 2010.440 Chimney Rock is Shinn's first large-scale panoramic work. Here she captures the sweeping vista visible on a hike at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.
Kay Khan (American, b. 1958) Chameleon 2007 Cotton and silk over armature; quilted, pieced, appliquéd, hand and machine stitched Lent courtesy of the artist W 31” TL-29325 Kay Khan, Chameleon (2007), speaks enigmatically of her personal transformation through the images and words embroidered into her quilted fabric vessel. The form of the vessel and its palette speaks to Khan’s original training as a painter and ceramic artist. Photo credit: Gary Mankus