Is It the 1960s? (by Karen S. Musgrave)

Invader_KarenMusgrave I had not intended to add to Olga’s discussion on crochet but serendipity played its part so here I am. When Stephanie Lanter’s piece “Invader” arrived at ClaySpace for its national competition and exhibit, Clay3 (work must fit in a 12″ x12″ x12″ cube), it was in eight pieces. When no one else would step up to fix it, I did. This lead me to look further into Stephanie’s work where I would discover porcelain and fiber sculptures that dealt with communication.

My porcelain and fiber sculptures are symbols representations of relations (i.e. communications) with others and ourselves. These intimate ‘phones’ are softened and contextualized with threads and crocheted doilies. Inspired by by the sensuality of antique phones, my use of low-tech process is not a critique of technology but of behavior. I examine dysfunction, loneliness, ‘home,’ and ambivalence through abstraction and excess, and laugh at my obsessions in this realm of connection. Also, I wonder how changing modes of fulfilling this basic need to “reach out and touch” each other–is also changing us.”

ToDelete, PressStar_StephanieLanter

To Delete, Press Star



When I was sharing my discoveries with a friend, she thought I should check out the work of Norma Minkowitz. Norma explores the possibilities of crocheted, interlaced sculptures stiffened into hard mesh-like forms. Her work deals with the passage of time, fragility of life, and  the inevitability of mortality. “Despite the repeated use of the same basic stitch, no two are exactly alike. This conveys the intimacy and imperfection of the human hand while creating a movement akin to the cross hatching of a pen and ink drawing. The interlacing technique that I use makes it possible for me to convey the fragile, the hidden, and the mysterious qualities of my work, in psychological statements that invite the viewer to interpret and contemplate my art. I am still drawing, but with fiber. “

Talking with Olga, she made a comment that it was beginning to feel like the sixties again. “It will be macrame next.” Of course , I had to explore what was happening in macrame and found some incredible artists using this medium. We are most certainly not talking hippie macrame.   Jim (no last name given) creates skulls out of macrame. His website is here. Then there is Ukrainian artist Vladimir Denshchikov who creates religious icons using macrame and painted canvas (only the faces are painted).

I suspect that just like quilts, crochet and macrame have evolved. And I always find it interesting what medium people choose to express themselves. So if this is a reflection of growth from the 1960s, I say, “Rock on!”

jim Macramemacrame-art-19-s

4 Responses to “Is It the 1960s? (by Karen S. Musgrave)”

  1. 1 olganorris February 28, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Karen, this has been a really interesting wander through what superficially be described as crochet and macramé. Norma Minkowitz’s work I know and admire – I have the Telos Portfolio book on her, and a nudge to look at her pieces again is a pleasure. Interesting how it is largely considered unremarkable to find her through the category textiles, but more outré to come to her through crochet! How we prejoritise some techniques simply because the conventional outcomes are generally dismissed as kitsch or folksy.
    The craft of the icons is most attractive, and I would have much preferred in my early childhood in Greece to have been able to examine such ones close to rather than having to kiss glass on silver. The skulls are wondrous, but the artist who really intrigued me was Stephanie Lanter.
    Her work is thought-provoking, and looks exquisitely executed (as was everyone else’s whom you mentioned), and interesting in that it tackles serious concerns in a fascinatingly quirky way. The result is not to my personal taste in that I would not want to acquire any one piece; but they drew me in, curious to explore what it might represent or want to say. Her other projects on her website also had me reading further and further.
    So, thank you for the introduction – and I’m glad that our exchange led to the others too!

    • 2 karenmusgrave2013 February 28, 2014 at 7:25 am

      Olga, You always give me food for thought and push me to explore further and for that I will always appreciate your amazing talents.

  2. 3 kathleenloomis February 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    ah yes — macrame…..

    I loved it in the early 70s. I made a huge wall hanging that covered my kitchen door (that’s where it hung while I worked on it, able to tend the stove at the same time). I thought it was really classy — still do, although it has been lost since then.

    Still have a hard time articulating what seems so old-fashioned about macrame — perhaps the big, bulky, crude cords that we often used, perhaps the natural colors (so 70s earthtones). If it does come back I’m ready — I still have my great book by Dona Z. Meilach.

    • 4 karenmusgrave2013 February 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Kathy, The more I look into macrame the more I am discovering that it never really went away. And thanks for reminding me, I have Dona’s book too!

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