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how many opera singers on the head of a hairpin?

September 5, 2010

Hairpin Lace Toussled Hair toussled_5july10_Lisa Daehlin for PS122Gallery

That might sound like a “Horton Hears a Who” intro, but, before we go down that temptingly “Existentialism 101” road, here’s my story:  A year and a half ago, I received an email from Susan Schreiber, curator of PS122 Gallery. She was inviting me to participate in some capacity with an exhibition at that historic Lower East Side space. Once upon a time, the building had been a public school, but the PS now stands for Performance Space and it has been the site of many and varied events of artistic, avant garde, cutting edge, perhaps weird expression. The exhibition, titled Yarn Theory, presented fiber work which incorporated math and science. Such juxtaposition might come as a surprise to some, but not to those who know about this amazing organization tucked away prominently on the corner of 1st Avenue and 9th Street in Manhattan. When I met with Susan Schreiber and Karen Eubel (also a key player in this organization and exhibition) I wasn’t exactly sure what our collaboration would entail. I brought samples of my designs, photos of my work, scrawlings I’d made on the chalkboard during the classes I teach at Cooper U (just down the street from the Gallery). After pitching a variety of ideas, I said, “but what I REALLY do is SING and I’ve been wanting to do a show blending stories of the handwork women do and the songs written about it” (Mimi from Boheme, Faust’s Gretchen am Spinnrade to name a few). They seemed intrigued. The resulting performance of Opera Knit Cabaret in the main performance space at PS122 was, I must say, a bit of a hit (thanks, in large part, to the magic created through the collaborative stylings of my fellow performers Flash Rosenberg and Louis Menendez).

Fast forward to this summer when I received another email invitation from the Gallery (this one sent to those many artists who have participated in PS122 Gallery over the years) to create a pdf as part of an on-the-walls exhibition and a downloadable catalog documenting the exhibition.

The dress I’d made for the above-mentioned performance was knitted of glow-in-the-dark plastic “Jelly Yarn” (remember those shoes of years ago?). That yarn, coupled with my love of Hairpin Lace Crochet, led me to create the image at the top of this post.  Much of the sinewing lines in knitted/crocheted fabric is (to my eyes) anthropomorphic. With the technique of Hairpin Lace especially, there seems to be a “spinal cord” of stitches running up the middle of the braid. I made a piece of it in plastic and torqued it around a dowel (the object later used as a stem in one of my crocheted haiku flowers). As for the hair serving as backdrop for that spine, even though my roots (genealogical and follicular) are Nordic, I must give credit where it is due: visit Gabor to pump up your highlights. Meanwhile, back at the image… Isn’t photoshop fun!? The colors exude such heat, thanks to the lightbox that is the computer screen – an interesting aspect of artwork so readily created nowadays: the same object/image has such a different presence online compared to that which exists in the 3D world (whatever THAT is). Sort of through the looking glass (not to mention the ease of storing the images).

View from the corner_PS122GalleryView from the street_Red Door_Last Call_PS122GalleryView from the street_fence with cards_Last Call_PS122GalleryInside the exhibition_1_Last Call_PS122GalleryInside the exhibition_2_Last Call_PS122GalleryInside the exhibition_3_Last Call_PS122GalleryInside the exhibition_4_Last Call_PS122GalleryHairpin Lace Toussled Hair toussled_5july10_Lisa Daehlin for PS122Gallery

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