These lightweight textiles are hung to form various configurations of multiple fabric planes, which are variously dyed, cut, pieced, and embellished. Each piece explores the physical potential of suspension and the possibilities of layering. Suspension from multiple points creates a fluid drape in the fabric that hints at its gravitational pull, but because the fabric is so lightweight, suspension also subjects the work to air currents. The use of transparent and limited hues within each piece, and the creation of negative spaces between and within layers, enhances the work’s fragility. The substance and physicality of fabric thus arranged conveys multiplicity, temporality and complexity. This work is meant to express the spaces between, or the spaces just before, or just after, things - spaces that we inhabit temporarily. Scaled to the space a body inhabits, this work engages the viewer both visually and viscerally, encouraging a haptic visual experience in which the viewer imagines, recognizes, or remembers the feeling of these textural elements.
Various processes contribute to the somatic history of the fabric and its multiple transformations; these pieces hold not only the results of the labor that made them, but the memory of that labor as well. As sensuous materials suspended in space, casting shadows on the walls and floors, they confront the viewer differently from different perspectives as they subtly oscillate in response to the atmosphere, becoming, ultimately, communicative memories, that are completed when the viewer receives them.
Although this work has fixed edges, it also functions in relationship to what is absent - between, around, or behind these edges. By creating line as well as openings, and by delineating positive and negative space, the edges frame information – or demarcate the lack of information - caught within, behind or beyond the edge. Composers of music also point to the “substance” of nothingness: when a silence is created between sounds, the silence has profound significance, partly because it resonates with the memory, or the shadow, of sound.
These textiles consider how the residue of the past - whether expressed through layers that are selectively visible and hidden, through colors that are carefully created or resisted, through embellishments that enhance formal elements, or through objects that are cast off from the process of making the textile - is intrinsic to any renewal. The gossamer layers of experience, depending upon our perceptual vantage point, are transient, creating a mutable, translucent skin that keeps quietly changing as we proceed forward in time.
I am interested in the ephemeral nature of beauty, the permanence of love, and the interplay between the two. By way of analogy, silk fabric is diaphanous and strong, delicate and sturdy; it survives multiple permutations and transformations, while retaining its fluidity and luminescence. Such contradictions, which function at both a material and a metaphorical level, fascinate me.
I primarily use the traditional techniques of Japanese shibori, a shape- and color-resist immersion dye process. Shibori embeds memory in fabric through color and form and echoes the way in which life experiences create multiple palimpsests as one proceeds forward in time, while continually registering the accumulations of the past.
Through layering and tying, my work creates variations in color that, coupled with the ethereality and translucency of silk, emphasize the interplay of shadow and light, and the remembrance of the heaviness of objects that have been removed from the fabric after dyeing. Suspended pieces are meant to engage the viewer by both their physical size and by their subtly shifting layers, as they respond to air currents created by movement around the piece.
About the Artist
A resident of Oberlin, Ohio, Rebecca Cross was born in Texas and raised in Japan and Alaska, and still considers herself a Pacific Northwesterner. She is married to the composer, and her artistic collaborator, Randolph Coleman, with whom she has a daughter and son.
A finalist for both the NICHE Award in Surface Design and the Dunay Prize for Fashion Accessories in 2006, and recipient of the Textile Society of America New Professional Award in 2010, artist Rebecca Cross exhibits her work nationally and internationally, including in shows juried by textile art luminaries Susan Shie, Nancy Crow, Cynthia Schira, Yoshiko Yamamoto Wada and Jason Pollen. Formally trained as a bel canto singer at the Oberlin Conservatory, in Oberlin, Ohio, where she now lives, she has performed contemporary art music in a range of venues. The worlds of music and literature continue to fascinate and inform her visual art.
Cross has collaborated extensively with the Double Edge Dance Company, Kora Radella and Ross Feller, artistic directors, at the Cleveland Public Theatre and for the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. Her textiles will appear in their performance at Roulette in NYC in October 2013. She received her MFA in Textiles from the Kent State University School of Art, where she now teaches Surface Design and Professional Practices; she was a Visiting Fellow teaching Art Criticism at Case Western Reserve University in 2009. Solo exhibitions include Like a River (2013) at The Cleveland Sculpture Center, Absence/Presence (2012) at the Morgan Paper Conservatory; group and invitational exhibits include Superlatives (2011) at the Zanesville Museum of Art in Zanesville, Ohio; Liaisons (2011) with painter Annette Poitau at the FAVA Gallery in Oberlin, Ohio; and Correspondence (2010) with Clare Murray Adams at Malone University in Akron, Ohio. In 2009-2010, Cross participated in artist residencies at the Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest, Hungary, at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, and at Zygote Press and the Morgan Paper Conservatory, both in Cleveland. In 2009, Cross was an American representative in Paris, France, in the ENSAD exhibit, under the aegis of the World Shibori Network, and she will remount Liasons with Poitau at the Mansfield Museum of Art in Mansfield, Ohio, in 2014.
Cross’s work appears in Ann Collier’s Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy With Women: Weaving Lives Back Together (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, December 15, 2011); 1000 Artisan Textiles (2010 Rockport Publishers/Quarry Books, Beverly, MA); and in American Craft magazine, June-July, 2010.