Monday, July 22, 2024

Maris Van Vlack’s “Kipuka” at Somerville’s Armory building. (Photo: Claire Ogden)

A rising star in the New England fiber arts scene, Maris Van Vlack has a rich and profound series of textile pieces in its final day at the Somerville Armory’s Rooted Cafe.

Emphasizing layers in her weaving, Van Vlack’s handiwork is detailed and methodical. In large, kaleidoscopic and colorful pieces such as “Kipuka,” she hand-weaves the base tapestry, adding paint and additional stitching over the top. This creates lush textures teeming with color and life. Bright blue stitching is reminiscent of a wisp of clouds; dark stitching patterns –  almost like volcanic rock – tether the composition, giving it a depth and intensity that’s easy to get lost in.

The painter Anselm Kiefer is one of Van Vlack’s primary influences, with paint overlapping like Van Vlack’s stitching, creating a dense landscape that feels like its own world. At Mass MoCa in Western Massachusetts, Kiefer’s mammoth works take up a warehouse. At a much smaller scale, Vlack builds equally rich worlds of her own.

Fresh from a November solo exhibition at Gallery 263 that emphasized a hybrid of digital and manual-based textile production methods, Van Vlack’s show at the Rooted Cafe has a stronger emphasis on handmade techniques. In our hyper-distracted digital environment, the attention to physicality feels like a balm.


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