Kimball Art Center’s ‘The Stories Woven Within’ examines the threads of the human experience |

Kimball Art Center’s ‘The Stories Woven Within’ examines the threads of the human experience

Exhibit features three textile artists

Colorful threads from Mexican serape blankets thread around nails in Adrian Esparza’s art installation at the Kimball Art Center. Esparza is one of three textile artists who are part of the Art Center’s “The Woven Stories Within” exhibit that runs through Sept. 19.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Textiles such as fabrics and thread take on new lives as formal and casual attire and bed coverings, but what happens when visual artists deconstruct the clothes and blankets?

The Kimball Art Center’s new exhibit, “The Stories Woven Within,” gives a glimpse of the powerful and creative possibilities a favorite shirt or well-worn quilt can offer.

The exhibit, created by Adrian Esparza, Elodie Blanchard and Marie Watt, opens Friday and will be on display through Sept. 19, said Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center curator.

“The power of these items comes from their use, as they become the living relics of stories that are endlessly woven into their fibers, and the artists, while different in their styles and approaches, intrinsically relate to one another in their works,” she said.

Adrian Esparza stands by one of his serape thread installations at the Kimball Art Center. Esparza began working with thread after he took a year off as a classically trained painter.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Esparza’s works become one with the Kimball Art Center as the nails he hammers into the walls serve as pegs that support threads of unraveled sarape blankets in his colorful, 3-dimensional installations.

The artist’s road to textile work stemmed from his work as a painter.

“I was influenced by Dutch still lifes,” he said. “I liked the precision and the realistic quality of the painting.”

His focus changed when he attended the California Institute of the Arts.

“I began to question everything, and for a year I didn’t paint at all,” he said. “When I went back to art, instead of painting, I started using the colors instilled in the thread of traditional sarape blankets instead of colors from a tube.”

Esparza also pivoted to one-point and asymmetric perspectives, which gives a 3-dimensional illusion to his works.

“It’s about this idea of trying to illustrate distance through a grid of the mathematical understanding of space,” he said.

The patterns Esparza conceives are based on the regions where he installs his works.

“When I found out I was going to come to Park City, I got onto eBay and looked at postcards and historical images from Utah,” he said.

His centerpiece at the KAC was inspired by the Silver King Mine’s main building.

“While I was looking at the structure, I noticed all of these windows, and I used those windows to inspire this more abstracted interpretation of that image,” he said.

The artist’s use of serape threads in this piece is significant and deliberate, said Aldy Milliken, Kimball Art Center executive director.

“With this, Adrian is able to take a reference to Mexican culture and reapply it to an image that he can control,” he said.

While Esparza uses blankets to create his visuals, New York-based Elodie Blanchard creates whimsical, forestlike installations from used clothing, according to Stoaks.

“The Forest” by Elodie Blanchard is another installation of the Kimball Art Center’s ‘The Woven Stories Within’ exhibit. Blanchard creates forests from used clothing from her friends and families.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

“These are forests you can walk through at the Kimball Art Center,” Stoaks said. “There are beautiful details on each piece.”

Each tree and sprout, that range in size from 2 feet to more than 12 feet, are characters within themselves, said Milliken.

“Elodie actually relates these sculptures to people,” he said. “Each piece has a unique personality, and there are more coming.”

Milliken and Stoaks discovered Blanchard’s art through Instagram as they sought artists for the exhibit.

“I happened to be in New York, and, after Nancy and I discussed Elodie’s work within the exhibition, had a studio visit with her,” Milliken said. “I told her we had about a month and a half, and she spent the last month making and refining her artistic practice.”

Marie Watt, the third artist in the exhibit, creates her works by embroidering text on reclaimed pieces of blankets, which she has done for nearly 20 years, Stoaks said.

“Marie likes that connection that textiles have in our lives, and how they hold our stories in a powerful way,” she said. “That’s why she likes using blankets that belonged to other people in her works.”

Watt is a citizen of the Seneca Nation, so she incorporates indigenous history and storytelling in her installations, according to Stoaks.

“She also refers to the anti-war protests from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and most of the text in her large blanket piece we have is taken from Marvin Gaye’s song, ‘What’s Going On?’,” Stoaks said.

Words inspired by Marvin Gaye’s hit “What’s Going On” adorns repurposed fabric in Marie Watt’s installation of the Kimball Art Center’s “The Woven Stories Within” exhibit. Watt hosts sewing circles to create her work.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Many of Watt’s works are created through collaboration.

“She hosts sewing circles throughout the country and invites anyone from kids to seniors to come together and share their stories,” Stoaks said. “It doesn’t matter if any of the participants can sew. She just likes how something meditative leads to moments where people can open up and share their own stories.”

Watt’s series at the Kimball Art Center is titled “Companion Pieces,” which is fitting for the exhibit, Stoaks said.

“Her work is focused on how we’re all connected, and that’s the thread that runs through all of these installations,” she said.

“This exhibit is not just an opportunity for people to come in and experience thes works,” Milliken added. “It’s also a way for the artists to be involved in an artistic dialog with one another.”

‘The Woven Stories Within’ by Marie Watt, Adrian Esparza, and Elodie Blanchard

When: June 25-Sept. 19

Cost: Free

Where: Kimball Art Center, 1251 Kearns Blvd.

Phone: 435-649-8882


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