Bold Thread Installation Takes Over Crystal Bridges

Gabriel-Dawe, Plexus No. 27, in
Gabriel-Dawe, Plexus No. 27, in "State of the Art" at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo: Gabriel Dawe.

Gabriel Dawe has created one of his delicate, large-scale hanging installations of colored thread at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, as part of the ambitious new exhibition “State of the Art,” reports PBS (see “State of the Art at Crystal Bridges: Pure Pop for Now People“).

The show is part of Crystal Bridge’s efforts to showcase “under-recognized” American artists who work outside New York and LA. The Mexican-born Dawe is one of three Dallas-based artists featured in the massive show, which includes no fewer than 227 works selected following a nation-wide search.

Dawe’s contribution is Plexus No. 27, a spiderweb-like sculptural installation made of 60 miles of thread in a gradient of different colors looped through countless mounted hooks with the help of an extension hook that served as a giant needle. Like all of Dawe’s thread works, the Crystal Bridges project required meticulous, carefully measured planning, and intense concentration, so as to not lose track of the sequence of hooks.

The artist likens the process to running a marathon (an analogy that may have inspired Shia LaBeouf’s recent art marathon), telling Art and Seek that “Finishing a piece is really satisfying. By the end of the installation I need a massage.”

Plexus No. 27 takes over a stairwell linking two floors in the museum’s temporary exhibition galleries, giving visitors the chance to view it from both above and below. Despite the installation’s impressive size, Dawe completed the work in under a week’s time back in July.

Dawe was inspired to work in thread by his desire to subvert the traditional gender roles that still characterize Mexican society. As a child, his grandmother taught his sisters to embroider, but would never have thought to pass that “feminine” skill along to him.

“Photographs don’t do the pieces justice,” said Dawe. “They do make beautiful photographs, but I think with my pieces you have to see them in real life to catch the subtleties. They change as you move round them; they are almost kinetic; the lines…really start messing with your depth perception, and it comes to life when you move around it.”

Watch a video of Dawe at work on Plexus No. 27 at Crystal Bridges:

State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now” is on view through January 19, 2015.


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