Keith Sonnier and Aaron Aujla: Transcontinental Carpetting

THE DAILY PIC: At National Exemplar, two artists play with how carpets get made.

THE DAILY PIC (#1567): I’d never been to National Exemplar gallery, far downtown in New York, when I ran across their latest show, which couples veteran American artist Keith Sonnier with Aaron Aujla, a Canadian who is 45 years his junior. Both artists’ offerings include textile works.

Aujla, source of today’s Pic, has taken America’s most popular machine-made carpeting and got the expert weavers of the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn to reproduce patches of the rugs by hand. It’s a lovely, clever reversal of the usual case, where factories try to copy the look of handicrafts.

Sonnier’s textile at National Exemplar is a small rug (see photo below) whose design is based on patterns sourced in India, but was actually made by craftspeople in Oaxaca, Mexico, in their own particular craft idiom. I love such hybridizing cross-culturalism; it’s like using pollen from one place to fertilize flowers from another. In nature, of course, such tactics have risks, but I think that in culture the result is most often beauty and vigor.

Of course, there’s the case of McDonald’s and Starbucks – cultural kudzu, for sure.


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