Sara VanDerBeek’s exhibit, “Pieced Quilts, Wrapped Forms” at Metro Pictures in Chelsea, is an interpretation of the geometric patterns and shapes that dominate certain creative traditions historically considered part of the woman’s domain, such as American quilting, Pre-Colombian textiles and ceramics, and modernist textiles and weaving.
VanDerBeek’s work often deals with shifting class and social struggles, memory and identity, and the way our minds organize these aspects of life. For this exhibit, she made simple primary form sculptures. These were then photographed, layered and printed. The tones are either monochrome or historically feminine colors, like pastel and fuschia.
Her digital c-prints, with names like Roman Stripe IV, Eternal Triangle, Dusk, Japanese Fan, Labyrinth, Lightning Strike 1, and Camino Real, play with simple, usually singular, bold lines, both straight and fluid. The colors of the layered prints sometimes fade into each other so the form is barely visible. In Roman Stripe IV, the lines repeat themselves and resemble an American quilt.
Each of her pieces are seemingly balanced, and repetitious, but on closer inspection, they are not perfectly symmetrical. They remind me of a 1950s housewife trying to hold it all together. The slight imbalance of each composition adds tension and energy to the piece. Whereas in traditional quilt making, the balanced repetition can make the piece dull.
Similarly, VanDerBeek uses lack of contrast in almost ironic way. It is the lack of contrast that creates tension, because it's unexpected.