Morphing fabric into hard-edged dimensional art
Fabric has always been a part of my world. My family was in the textile business for over four generations—from the Austrian Hungarian Empire, to Poland and finally to Los Angeles, CA. That may help explain why I feel most comfortable expressing myself with textiles.
My use of fabric in art is unexpected for many viewers. We typically connect fabric with clothing—hung on the body, not on the wall. Fabric is typically thought of as being soft and flowing and not three-dimensional. In contrast, I work with fabric to create bold, hard-edged and often dimensional abstract art.
The challenge for me in creating my current series of freeform abstract pieces is in taking diverse patterned fabric pieces and creating a dialogue between them that results in a harmonious whole. I start by putting one piece and then another on my design wall and see if they communicate. Is there a dialogue between one piece and another? A spark? Color, shape, pattern print, and scale are all factors I consider in addition to other design elements. I seek to create depth and movement in my pieces.
I view my fabric pieces as paint. The stitching helps to interconnect the forms by creating texture and marks on my "canvas"--similar to a painter using brush strokes to create marks in their paintings. My work marries the traditional and historical technique of stitching with contemporary abstract art. The free form pieces placed at different heights and angles reveal both a playfulness often missing in more formal exhibitions and a gravitas that recognizes both painters and sculptors of postmodern abstractions.
The energy in these pieces calls out for irregular free form shapes—not to be confined to a traditional rectangular size. This is true of much of Frank Stella’s later works. My work references John Chamberlain’s vividly colored and irregularly shaped agglomerations and Frank Stella’s three-dimensional art. The bold patterns and colors attract attention from a distance and the detailed stitching holds one’s attention as you draw close. The viewer’s imagination is needed to complete my work as I intentionally create pieces that leave much to be explored and discovered.
Peter Frank, art critic and curator, commented: “By working with materials and techniques associated with domestic life and women’s practice – Lauterbach argues for the full validation, as fine art, of women’s creative work in general. Composing intricate, eccentric, elaborate objects out of decorative substances – printed patterns, brightly colored threads, and the like – she demonstrates the aesthetic sophistication of her métier, realizing a highly distinctive body of work in the process. Her work, sprightly and unpredictable, advances Lauterbach’s feminist premise rather than the other way around.”
For more information, please visit www.sandralauterbach.com.