Upcycle!, a contemporary art exhibition, extends the life of castoff materials by transforming them into compelling art. The 35-piece collection is produced by Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), and includes works by artists from the United States, Europe, Canada, and Australia. Upcycle! will be on view at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland from September 17 – October 29, 2022.
Repurposed materials are a natural fit for fiber art, which has a rich tradition of incorporating unwanted elements into new works out of necessity and maker preference. Discarded clothing is a frequent resource, but the works in Upcycle! also include posters, plastic grocery bags, bubble wrap, and leftover wedding favors.
The Gyre by Kathleen Bagioni of Tolland, Connecticut, swirls with society’s clutter: plastic shopping bags, financial statements, wedding favors, junk mail—even curtain remnants. Bagioni combines these materials into circular elements adrift on a sea of plastic, mimicking the motion of an ocean gyre teeming with trash.
Susan Mogan of Mobile, Alabama, explores the rift between cultural opposites in the United States in Coming Apart at the Seams. In a piece that resembles a tattered campaign poster, Mogan combines antique quilt blocks, thrift-store burlap and other fabrics, silk, lace, embroidery floss, paint, dryer sheets, buttons, and paper—a true melting pot.
“The blue left and red right can be seen splitting off from the center, where a field of white crosses symbolizes those who’ve given their lives for our nation. Tattered edges and fraying seams reflect the current state of our union,” Mogan says in her artist statement.
Bodil Gardner of Lystrup, Denmark, has long repurposed clothing and an eclectic mix of fabric to create portraits and scenes. Her piece in this exhibition, Mother Earth, uses the same tried and true materials. The image is of a pleasant-looking woman seated at a table holding a plate in the shape of the planet. Everything is safe under her protection, with curved rows of sheep and houses basking in her calm demeanor.
Juror Katie Pasquini Masopust, a renowned fiber artist residing in Fortuna, California, took care to include a cross-section of artistic styles while selecting pieces based on many factors. “Upcycle! is sure to generate interesting conversations, based on the artistic merit of the works as well as the use of previously discarded materials to create strong statements. Surely it will also spark discussions about what we are doing to this world when we acquire and then discard the fabrics in our lives. May we all become more educated in order to save the planet,” she says in her juror’s essay.
Upcycle! is one of many traveling exhibitions produced by SAQA, an international organization with more than 4,000 artists dedicated to bringing thought-provoking, cutting-edge artwork to venues across the globe. SAQA’s artwork has been enjoyed by millions of people at art museums, galleries, international fiber events, and regional venues in more than 250 venues on six continents.
For more details on Upcycle!, including upcoming venues, visit www.saqa.com/upcycle.Learn More