December 5, 2017 - The Fabric Workshop and Museum - Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation
December 5, 2017

The Fabric Workshop and Museum

Left: Artist Box contents for Roy Lichtenstein, Untitled, 1979. Pigment on silk satin. Collection of The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Photo: Carlos Avendaño. Right: Roy Lichtenstein, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, Untitled, 1979. Pigment on silk satin, 30 x 26 inches; edition of 100. Commissioned by Artists Space, New York. Collection of The Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo: Aaron Igler.

Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation
December 15, 2017–March 25, 2018

Opening: December 15, 6–8pm

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
1214 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Hours: Monday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Saturday–Sunday 12–5pm

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This year The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) unpacks its own history, along with a good number of little-known narratives within contemporary art.  The occasion is its 40th anniversary and capping the year has been the literal unpacking of a rarely-exhibited holding within the Museum’s collection—Artist Boxes bursting with notes, sketches, prototypes and ephemera packed by an array of artists ranging from Laurie Anderson, Cai Guo-Qiang and Richard Tuttle to Mark Bradford, Hella Jongerius and Robert Pruitt.

Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation pairs evocative items from almost 60 boxes containing process materials from its artists residencies with the finished works that were produced in FWM’s Workshop. The selection is drawn from 371 boxes stacked floor to ceiling in the Museum’s archive and from the permanent collection of some 5,000 objects amassed since its inception in 1977.

“Early on in my tenure, members of the staff urged me to look through the boxes to gain insight into the Museum’s impact on the field and better understand its history,” says exhibition curator and FWM Executive Director, Susan Lubowsky Talbott. “Tissue paper was drawn back, fabric unfolded, layers of source material sifted through and notes read.  It was a thrilling experience and a way of connecting to the artists—to their thoughts, creative leaps and even false starts. The experience led to this exhibition.”

A number of the objects on view document what are today considered milestones in contemporary art practice.  Among these, process material from Chris Burden’s L.A.P.D Uniforms and Gary Simmons’ Step in the Arena (The Essentialist Trap), both exhibited in 1994, are especially timely for their engagement with the issues of violence and race in America. Visitors will also encounter items from boxes that track exciting conceptual leaps, as when Jim Hodges created the first of his large, sculptural floral veils (Every Touch, 1995) or when Roy Lichtenstein moved from painted canvas to screen printing on textile in a work that takes the form of a silk sateen shirt (Untitled, 1979) painted with the Benday dots and bands of color that became his trademark. Process and Practice also features a good many works of art exhibited for the first time in decades, as well as the never-before-exhibited, such as Untitled (pulpit no. 2.5) by Nate Young (2016). 

Accompanying the exhibition is Process and Practice: The Fabric Workshop and Museum, the third in a series of publications documenting the works of art created by Artists-in-Residence and the permanent collection at FWM.  Process and Practice features essays by the contemporary art scholars Nancy Princenthal and Patterson Sims as well as by the exhibition curator, Susan Lubowsky Talbott.

Pop up shop
A special pop up shop in the exhibition will preview a limited-edition artist multiple by Ann Hamilton created in the Workshop to benefit The Fabric Workshop and Museum on its 40th anniversary. Hamilton’s OVERWEAR is a functional unisex apron in two sizes and colorways. Its hand screen-printed motif, printed on linen, is inspired by a drawing from an 18th-century weaving pattern book found in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia and encountered by Hamilton as part of her research for the exhibition/installation habitus (2016/17). Joan Jonas and Mary Heilmann are among the other artists who will be represented by Workshop-fabricated works in the pop up.

About the funders
Process and Practice: 40 Years of Experimentation and its accompanying catalogue have been made possible by generous support from the Coby Foundation, Ltd.  Major support for the exhibition is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, the Joy of Giving Something, Inc., the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

Press preview: Friday, December 15, 11:30am
Press contact: Anne Edgar, T 646 567 3586 / anne [​at​]

The Fabric Workshop and Museum
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