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Project Atrium: Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

Wider Than the Sky

July 26, 2014 — October 26, 2014

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This site-specific sculptural work made of an array of mostly textile materials—pipe cleaners, wire, thread, yarn, string, fabric, plastic, and fishing weights—suspends from skylight girders to forty feet below. A series of intricately woven curtains and several small segments include three-dimensional elements, translucent fabrics, and open areas that allow viewers to peer through multiple layers from each floor of the Museum.

Shades of red, blue, and black take on new dimensions when lit by gallery lights that emphasize details and create shadows that become a part of the overall work. Natural light from above creates changes in depth and color throughout the day.

Caroline Lathan-Stiefel’s previous installation work has focused on rhizomatic structures inspired by marine and plant biology, as well as architectural and urban models. But the towering space at MOCA pushed her to something different for Project Atrium.

After her father suffered encephalitis, causing temporary damage to his speech, she began to think about how the circuitry of the brain can be scarred and damaged and then “regrow” itself, like a plant. The artwork explores both the science and the experience of the brain—a kind of mapping of the neurological landscape. Some embroidered words represent the first words her father spoke after his brain injury, words that became placeholders for many different things. Abstract objects could be seen as items from daily life that occupied his thoughts.

She entitled the installation Wider Than the Sky, based on Emily Dickinson’s poem, which addresses the brain’s capability to contain immeasurable vastness and creativity.

She also found inspiration in drawings by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a nineteenth century Spanish neuroscientist whose hundreds of illustrations of the delicate arborizations of brain cells are still used for educational purposes. As a way of paying homage to the craft and detail he poured into his drawings—and the intricacy of the brain itself—Lathan-Stiefel employed more time-intensive sewing techniques on Wider Than the Sky than she has in previous works, which often were held together by pins.


Major Support is Generously Provided By


Presenting Sponsor

Supporting Sponsors

Contributing Sponsors

Agility Press
The Boeing Company
WJCT Public Broadcasting

IMAGE CREDITS

Image 1 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Acanthus Climbing, 2012. Pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, yarn, lead weights, pins; dimensions variable. Image courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Image 2 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Hinterland (detail), 2010. Pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, pins, yarn, thread, lead weights, electrical boxes, styrafoam balls, juice jugs, car speakers. Dimensions variable. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 3 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Hinterland (detail), 2010. Pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, pins, yarn, thread, lead weights, electrical boxes, styrafoam balls, juice jugs, car speakers. Dimensions variable. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 4 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Lagan, 2012. Pipe cleaners, wire, plastic, fabric, thread, pins. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 5 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Madder Bloom, 2009. Pipe cleaners, fabric, plastic, pins, straws, plastic seed tags. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 6 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Ocean, 2011-2012. Pipe cleaners, plastic from shopping bags, fabric, thread. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 7 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Patch, 2007. Fabric, pipe cleaners, yarn, pins, thread, straws, wire, strawberry crates, lead weights, fruit nets, rubber fishing lures. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Image 8 Caroline Lathan-Stiefel: Whorl (detail), 2006. Fabric, pipe cleaners, yarn, pins, thread, fruit nets, wire, lights. Images courtesy of Caroline Lathan-Stiefel and Diana Lowenstein Fine Art Gallery, Miami.

Friday, July 25

Patrons’ Reception

6-7 p.m.
By Invitation Only

Members’ Reception

7-9 p.m.
Free for Members

Inside Project Atrium Artist Conversation

7:15 p.m.
Free for Patrons and Members

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