Grain by Janet Passehl
The subtle cloth sculptures in Grain, created by artist Janet Passehl of Deep River, CT, capture discrete moments in time that essentially document the process of their own making, according to Robbin Zella, director of the Housatonic Museum of Art and the curator of this exhibition. Passehl, whose work has been exhibited in New England, New York, France and Iceland, says that drawing forms the basis of these works. I set out, in part, thinking about making something as minimal as an Agnes Martin, as material as a Donald Judd, as simple as a Richard Tuttle.
Passehls process includes staining the cloth with tea, drying it, then folding it in precise configurations and ironing the creases. The grain of the cloth itself becomes the subject: its texture, weave, and edges whether sharp or crooked, crisp or frayed, offer visual variety but also open a space for tranquility and contemplation. Passehl notes that the process of staining is a marriage of manipulation and accident. Cutting a straight edge with a scissors is a futile striving for perfection. The organic nature of cloth, the weave which has push and pull, stretches, shrinks, and frays, provides the perfect theater for the collaboration of artist and material. The material is not transformed, but the poetry of its nature is revealed.