February 11, 2017 through June 04, 2017
October 27, 2016, San Francisco, CA – The Museum of Craft and Design is pleased to announce their upcoming exhibition, FELT DeCoded | Wool: Nature’s Technology, opening to the public on Saturday, February 11, 2017.
From lacy wisps of wool to rock-like slabs, wool felt is a textile of extremes. “It is an extraordinary material with humble origins that has been an integral part of human life for millennia, yet few people understand the complexity of wool as a fiber, the felt-making process or felt’s diversity in form and function,” comments featured exhibition artist, Janice Arnold.
Arnold’s FELT DeCoded is a tactile and visual exploration of art and science with a step-by-step material study that shows an intimate perspective of wool as nature’s technology, demonstrating why wool is intrinsic to the practice of making handmade felt. “We are witnessing an increase in traditional handcrafts making a comeback in modern art,” explains The Woolmark Company Managing Director and exhibition sponsor Stuart McCullough. “Natural, versatile, innovative and above all luxurious, wool and particularly felt continue to be used in modern ways whilst paying tribute to the fiber’s traditional roots. From a wool felt coat or hat, through to felt lamp shades, upholstery and other interior products, the fiber’s versatility is endless.”
Arnold’s comprehensive body of work demonstrates a fusion between traditional processes and a modern aesthetic. FELT DeCoded highlights the unexpected beauty and versatility of felt, offering visitors the opportunity to learn, explore, contemplate, analyze and engage with wool and felt in its crafted visual art form and as a raw fiber.
The exhibition features many new works, including a large-scale immersive installation titled Cave of Memories, a piece referencing ancient memories of our collective nomadic past and also serving as a visual memoir of Arnold’s recent years caregiving her elder parents. A labor of love, each square inch of felt is handmade with intention and represents one of the 1169 days spent serving her parents until their deaths.
An exhibition highlight hung from the museum’s 24’ ceiling, is the 30’ x 15’ Monster Felt that was created with the help of the Central Washington community of Tieton. It was made with 65 pounds of regional wool and alpaca fibers, that were laid down, saturated with water and felted by the community, who were invited to walk (and dance) on top of the wool to start the felting process. The piece was then dried, rolled up and kept for a year. Over the course of three years, volunteers and community members would hold events involving the Monster Felt. Participants would dance on, kick and roll the wool until the fibers became strong felt. After three years of community effort overseen by Arnold, the Monster Felt is believed to be the largest piece of contemporary hand-made felt in the world made in the traditional nomadic way.
Complementing Arnold’s sculptural textile works are elements that range from acoustic wall panels to a multi-layered felted coffee table; Nesting Instinct, a wool and mohair stool created in collaboration with TESC Furniture Studio; Arnold’s Stratigraphic Bench – comprised of rock-like slabs of regionally sourced wool; FELT Pelt Cow Chair, and a section of Woven Wall, a site-specific permanent installation at Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Nearly 400 square feet of exhibition space is dedicated to the interactive Science of Wool Lab. Making the world of wool accessible, curious visitors will be encouraged to explore Petri dishes filled with samples of fibers and fabrics via a monitor and ProScope (video based microscope) to analyze felt fibers. In addition to the scientific exploration of felted wool, visitors will be introduced to some history and a sneak-peek into the future of wool felt. Even industrial felt-making processes will be decoded, featuring samples of factory-made objects rarely seen outside of an industry setting.
DeCoding the Process: from wool fiber to felt. 3 steps in the 40 step process for the making of Traditional Nomadic Felt
From installations for Cirque du Soleil to Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant to Palace Yurt, the centerpiece of the Fashioning Felt exhibit at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, and her community-based work with Monster Felt, Arnold pushes the boundaries of felt. The Museum of Craft and Design invites visitors to explore ‘nature’s technology’ in a variety of forms and formats and explore Arnold’s immersive installed environment, beginning February 11, 2017 with the launch of FELT DeCoded | Wool: Nature’s Technology.
About the Artist
As the daughter of a cartographer, Janice Arnold grew up looking at the world in landscapes rather than countries, contour lines rather than boundaries, textures rather than cultures. Fine fabric was always a passion. Throughout college, she was enamored with folk art, high fashion and studied a wide variety of textile traditions. She traveled extensively to learn traditional techniques within cultural contexts. Arnold started making handmade Felt in 1999 for a large-scale sculpture commission for the Nordstrom Corporation stores. She has focused intently on making Felt as functional fabric and art form ever since.
Organized by: Museum of Craft and Design
Exhibition Artist: Janice Arnold
Exhibition Design: Ted Cohen
The Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibitions and programs are generously supported by the Windgate Charitable Foundation and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. FELT DeCoded | Wool: Nature’s Technology is generously sponsored by The Woolmark Company.
About The Woolmark Company
The Woolmark Company is the global authority on wool. Through our extensive network of relationships spanning the international textile and fashion industries, we highlight Australian wool’s position as the ultimate natural fiber and premier ingredient in luxury apparel. The Woolmark logo is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, providing assurance of the highest quality, and representing pioneering excellence and innovation from farm through to finished product. The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise owned by more than 24,000 woolgrowers that invests in research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool.
Museum of Craft and Design
The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) is San Francisco’s only museum devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary craft and design. Founded in 2004, the MCD showcases designers, makers and artists through an exciting and distinctive series of craft and design-focused exhibitions and public programs. As a non-collecting institution, the museum actively collaborates with artists, designers, museums and universities, as well as design venues and practitioners to create inspirational experiences in the world of craft and design for visitors of all ages.
Media Contact: Wendy Norris, Norris Communications
(415) 307-3853 or firstname.lastname@example.org
*Top Image: DeCoding the Process: Laying up the wool fibers for a section of Cave of Memories