PCMA Opens Krysten Cunningham’s Textile-Inspired, Mixed-Media Exhibit

Pomona College Museum of Art debuted a new
exhibition called “Project Series 47: Krysten Cunningham: Ret, Scutch, Heckle” at Art After Hours Oct. 31. The opening offered guests a chance to speak with the artist, browse new
additions to the collection, and pick up some Halloween treats.

exhibit features a collection of drawings and mixed media sculptures that focus
on weaving and textiles. 

One piece, “Circle
and Chains,” displays brass chains descending from fiberboard in a very
clear circular shape, which is distorted as the chains are woven and tangled
together. Other notable pieces include stiffened textile cloth hung over stone and
intricately woven wool yarn around steel. 

Attendees were impressed by Cunningham’s mixed media projects. 

“I think that mixed media sculpture shows progression and
innovation in art because it goes beyond the limits of the canvas and explores
new topics in different ways that haven’t been done before,” Noor Asif SC ’16 said.

Krysten Cunningham said the exhibit is inspired by her interest in the
craftsmanship involved in making textiles, as well as the history of textiles.

“I don’t see a textile just as a textile, but
as the idea of weaving different materials together. Like metal and cloth. But
also from the cloth, the yarn work,” Cunningham said. “The title [“Ret, Scutch, Heckle”] comes from the process of making linen and how
in old English some parts of it have become part of our language now and some
of it is lost. So it’s about newly investigating an old technology in
contemporary materials and color.”

Senior curator Rebecca
McGrew explained that Cunningham’s
work has been on her radar for years. However, she chose Cunningham for the
Project Series in light of recent developments in Cunningham’s work. 

“I’ve been a big fan of some of her earlier
projects and sculptures, in particular the God’s Eye series that were featured
in an exhibit at the Hammer [Museum],” McGrew said. “Then finally we did a studio visit
maybe two years ago and it appeared that her work was moving in an interesting

intern Hannah Pivo PO ’14, who co-curated the exhibit with McGrew and wrote the
exhibition’s catalog, helped choose Cunningham for the series.  

“I wanted to find
something that would connect to my senior thesis,” Pivo said. “When we decided
on Krysten Cunningham, since she had a really interesting connection to
textiles, we focused on the women’s history and crafts elements of her work.
Meeting with her also opened up some more of the scientific physics issues that
she is interested in.”

said she is pleased with the construction and range of the exhibit.

“I love that it
spans some of her older work, like the God’s Eyes, which is something she is
well known for. Then we also have the newer stuff that hasn’t been exhibited
before,” Pivo said.

Like McGrew, Pivo
attested to the significance of recent developments in Cunningham’s work.

“I think you can
see a lot of the progression of her work. It includes the textiles, the
sculptures without textiles, and a new process she is doing which hardens the
textiles by dipping them in chemicals,” Pivo said.

McGrew commented
that Cunningham’s weaving and sculptures added diversity to the museum’s current
exhibitions and rounded out the collection. 

“I liked
the work in contrast to John Divolo’s photos in the South Gallery, the David Michalek
videos in the main gallery, and the ‘Resonant Minds’ show Nidhi Gandhi did in the
ramp,” she said. “It seemed like getting some interesting sculptures would be a nice contrast
to videos and photography.“

addition to the exhibition, the Project Series typically hosts a lecture or
workshop to facilitate communication between the artist and students.
Cunningham will host an intensive workshop series open to all Claremont
Colleges students.

For the workshop
series, Cunningham will work with Pomona professor of physics Dwight Whitaker in a collaboration of disciplines. From Nov. 15-17, there will be four hour-long workshops in which participants will construct a weaving project that
represents past, present, and future, McGrew said. Cunningham and Whitaker will
also lead discussions with subjects that vary from constructivist art to
physics theories.

workshops will culminate in a performance piece titled “Sensing Your World Line
in the Fabric Space of Time,” which will be performed at Art After Hours Nov.
21. Student will also have the opportunity to participate in the final
performance piece.

expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming series of workshops, specifically about the collaboration with Professor Whitaker. 

“It’s going to be
really fun,” she said. “We are going to cross-pollinate ideas from each other. I feel
like artists could use a little more physics and physics could use a little
more art. Aesthetics and intellectual ideas go together really well in different
departments. It’s a really fruitful thing if we get to work together. I think
that’s better for civilization in general to go between fields. We should be
more messy and woven together.”

The idea of
intricately woven messiness is present in her work. 

“I like how she managed to use something so childlike like colored pencils.
Although the strokes don’t seem refined, she makes it clean cut and
professionally done,” Art After Hours attendee Nelson Tsui PO ’16 said after viewing Cunningham’s untitled drawing series.

The exhibit will be on display
until the end of the fall semester. The Pomona College Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and at Art After hours from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on

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