At LaiSun Keane, the united state of stitch!
A common thread runs through these works, from hand-hooked rugs to digital prints to embellished dollar bills
By Cate McQuaid Globe Correspondent,Updated July 26, 2022, 11:40 a.m.
“STITCH!,” a frothy summer show at LaiSun Keane, revels in the tactile quality of textiles, presenting needlework as a metaphor for making connections and bridging divides.
The artist duo Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus, who go by LoVid, address the analog/digital chasm, juxtaposing the touch of handwork with computer-generated visuals. A quilt-like scrap hangs against a digitally printed grid of trees and glitchy abstractions in “Succulent.” A glossy, overexposed photo of trees is stitched atop the quilt. Steamy greens and purples echo through the layers. It’s all hot and bothered, with a head-spinning toggle between textile tangibility and digital dreamworld.
Quiltmaker Michael C. Thorpe’s “guy fly” portrait of Guion Stewart Bluford Jr., the first Black American astronaut to fly in space, has a similar tension, featuring fabric stitched over a digital print. But Thorpe’s fabric doesn’t compete with the printed image — the swatches sing against it, bringing his subject to life.
Thorpe, who had a piece in last year’s “Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories” at the Museum of Fine Arts, makes a jump here to conceptual art — for instance, a doll he designed in his own image, and sent out to be fabricated — but his quilts remain his strongest work. In “21,″ he fills a grid with goofy portrait-type abstractions that wink and bustle with a Basquiat-type energy.
Stacey Lee Webber’s “Rainbow Costumes” series comically subverts values represented on American paper currency, embroidering outfits on the powerful men depicted on sheets of uncut bills. She pushes those figureheads off their pedestals with a lighthearted touch, portraying Abraham Lincoln as a clown and George Washington as a chick emerging from an egg.
A chief allure of textiles is their homey quality, and Mary Tooley Parker’s hand-hooked rugs at first feel like a place to rest. But her domestic interiors invite us in and bounce us right back out with shallow, discombobulating spaces. “Cupboard” includes a sofa and a floor lamp, but it’s not clear if we’re inside or outside; blue trees fill the background, and their roots drop into the top of the cupboard.
Joining things we may not think belong, “STITCH!” reminds us that categories can be arbitrary — and altering them can widen, and even mend, our sense of what and who belongs where.