While at arrowmont a few weeks back, there were a number of really awesome pieces in the new faculty show. One artist in particular caught my attention: Leisa Rich.
Rich uses a combination of textiles and sewing techniques in her hanging wall pieces that are at times narrative. What struck me was her incorporation of flashy, "trashy" fabrics: glossy, glittery, and vibrant colors in vinyl scream low-brow and remind us of fashion disasters from the past, however the artist has managed to tame these materials by using them in a tasteful way and undermine them with very deliberate, delicate,sensitive contour stitching. Upon close examination, there are a variety of details to be delighted by, noteably the way she has created textures within the vinyl by stitching patterns over layers of fabric. The subject matter of her works appear at first playful, yet the imagery appears to allude to deeper issues. Her combination of a material with such "cheap" connotation and the intimacy of the act of stitching and her attention to detail intrigues me. I commend Rich for her desire to embrace these materials and for her ability to bring something new and interesting out of a what so many of us would shy away from. The piece I felt was the strongest in her works at Arrowmont was entitled "A Bird in the Bush is Worth Two in the Hand", and can be seen below (Please excuse the terrible image, the work is much better in person!):
Rich is also working on 3D sculptures that appear generative and are quite interesting, as well as more vinyl 2D wall pieces that are viewer interactive. Here are just a few more shots of some of her work:
Check out Rich's website for more great work and her Etsy for some affordable wearable pieces.