Sunday, February 24, 2019

Local Art Seen: Kathy McTavish's Generative Textile Drawings @ the Joseph Nease Gallery

Kathy McTavish, 2nd from right, explains the evolution of her processes.
Friday evening a number of Duluth galleries and art spaces opened their doors for the monthly Downtown Art Walk. It gave me a chance to see Kathy McTavish's latest iteration of her work involving computer code, which is titled Generative Textile Drawings. The work is a variation of traditional quilting, involving batting, fabric, thread, polyester and coding. Coding is the thread that runs through McTavish's last several projects including Chance at the Tweed, and her Duluth Quantum Computing Project at 3 West in 2016.

Rather than projecting images in light her current work has a more substantial physicality. The stitching and designs are still generated by code, but now you can touch and feel and see an object. Kathy McTavish explained that she has been developing algorithms to create a stripped down alphabet of forms, computer generated line drawings.

Generative Textile Drawing, detail. (click to enlarge)
Some people might be surprised at this new direction, but those who know her recognize that quilting is an almost logical application of her designs. Her sister Karen is a highly influential and innovative quilter. In fact, her innovations are such that there is a style of quilting named after her sister called McTavishing. (See: Pushing the Boundaries.)

Both McTavishes are doing mathematical work of sorts, and Kathy is quick to note that the first computer was a loom. "Knitters were the first visualizers of computer design," she said.

The pieces vary in size from 42"x 40" to 84"x 42". Materials for each are listed as cotton, polyester, thread and code.  Most of the work is subtle and best appreciated up close as opposed to standing across the room. Here are several more images from the show.

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The Joseph Nease Gallery, located at 23 West First Street, is a contemporary art gallery featuring some of the most interesting work in the Northland. On March 22 there will be a public reception featuring work by the Scandinavian artist Sirpa Särkijärvi. Transcriptions will be on display through June 1. It is a show you won't want to miss.

Meantime, art goes on all around you.
Get into it.

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