When we refer to a formal element in art, we are talking about the basic language of art. Color, pattern, line, shape, texture and value are just some of those elements, and they help us to describe what we are seeing. These same elements can be clarified further, as texture can be defined as visual texture or actual texture.
Visual texture refers to an implied sense of texture. The texture is not actually there, but the artist has created the quality of texture through line, pattern, shading and color. With actual texture, you may, if allowed to, feel the physical texture of the work.
With the work of artist Nancy Gabriel, I not only want to feel it with my fingers, but actually snuggle up next to it and feel it against my cheek. But I expect the volunteers at the Boxx Gallery might frown on such an idea.
Gabriel’s rugs are part of an exhibit called “Textures” that is on exhibit at the Boxx Gallery in Tieton. The term texture aptly fits each of the artworks in this exhibit, which also includes artists Rob and Jackie Prout.
Although Gabriel’s rugs are on the wall, she prefers to have them function as rugs on the floor. Says Gabriel: “Consider the floor as ‘the fifth wall!’”
In the process of making her rugs, she focuses on color in her “dye kitchen.” She writes that it is “not a state-of-the-art kitchen ‘to die for,’ it’s a funky space with an old electric range. There are shelves of canning jars filled with dyes, measuring cups, casserole pans and copious yarn snippets with notes. Colors emerge when the dyes are baked onto bulky yarns and repurposed woolens (from blankets, trousers, sport coats, etc.).
“With an assortment of wools, I enter a separate quiet space. There, I patiently ‘paint’ a story onto cloth. My intent is to create a rug that is both durable and artistic.”
Rob and Jackie Prout have their own artwork in the exhibition, but they also have many collaborative works that combine photography and fabric. Jackie writes that “three years ago, Rob and I were invited by curator Carol Hassen to create a piece of art together for the 10th and final Black Box Exhibit. This presented a fun challenge for two married artists used to working alone in separate studios and in different media. Turned out we enjoyed it!
“For this Boxx Gallery show, we continued our collaborative exploration, creating the new body of work you see here. We enjoyed figuring out ways to combine his photos and my quilts to create something new and different — in the process, learning to give and take, while remaining friends.”
Rob says that in collaborating, “we sort through images, speak of shapes and textures, find directions. Together we change, adjust, share, diverge, insist and give.”
The work of all three artists create an exhibit of both actual and visual texture, and the colors are a reflection of the season.
You can view the exhibition “Textures” at the Boxx Gallery through Nov. 28.
• David Lynx is executive director of the Larson Gallery at Yakima Valley College. He writes this weekly column for SCENE. Learn more at www.larsongallery.org.