Josh Faught: Sanctuary

Josh Faught: Sanctuary

Western Bridge

Josh Faught, Sanctuary, 2017.*

January 25, 2017
Josh Faught
January 31, 2017–July 31, 2018
Reception: January 31, 6–9pm
St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral
1245 10th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
United States

Western Bridge is pleased to announce Sanctuary, a newly commissioned work by Josh Faught for St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle.

For Sanctuary, Josh Faught creates a textile extending the length of a massive pillar in the nave of the cathedral. Bringing together craft, sociopolitical, and personal histories, Sanctuary links expressions of romantic and erotic love with songs of praise and prayers.

The work was hand-woven by the artist over the summer and fall of 2016, using hand-dyed cotton, hemp, and gold lamé. This abstract, painterly surface serves as a matrix and support for other found objects. Sourced from the artist’s personal collection and Seattle archives, these objects refer to cultural touchstones, political histories, pop culture, and jokes.

Running down the entire right side of the work are woven texts, each repeating the title of a song from Belinda Carlisle’s 1987 album Heaven on Earth. Each track on the album is full of references to love and desire, but for the artist, Heaven on Earth can also be read as a thinly veiled hymnal. Every song has the potential to oscillate between earthly passion and sacred devotion.

On the other edge of the work, a column of pockets hold DVDs containing the complete first season of the soap opera Passions (1999–2007). Set in the New England village of Harmony, Passions opened up the typical range of soap operatic narratives by exploring supernatural realms. The melodrama pitting Mephistophelean villains against pure-of-heart young couples was brought into new settings (hell, heaven) with higher stakes than power, money, love and loss.

Between the smash hit and the soap opera, a set of objects are affixed to the textile like memoranda on a bulletin board. These mostly reproduce documents found in a pair of local archives: the papers of Peter Hallock (1924–2004), organist, composer, and founder and longtime director of St. Mark’s lauded Compline Choir; and a collection of correspondence, newsletters, and fliers documenting LGBT politics and culture assembled by Tim Mayhew, a Seattle activist.

A manuscript of Hallock’s composition “A Song of Deliverance” connects the themes of Passions and Heaven on Earth to a more local and ecclesiastical context. Zines and ephemera from the Mayhew archive limn gay culture in the second half of the 20th century: the goofy-naughty Seattle zine Pot Pourri, with dispatches from pageants and boat cruises; a slip advertising “The Date-Record,” allowing men to call in their whereabouts on blind dates or hookups as a safety measure; advertisements for The Monastery, a notorious all-ages discotheque/church which gives its alternate name, “The Sanctuary,” to Faught’s piece. Founded in a deconsecrated church in 1978, the Monastery closed in 1985 after a series of police stings and court battles. In memorial articles published in The Stranger, attendees remember it variously as a den of sin and a safe haven, sometimes both.

These elements run through the weft and across the surface of Faught’s monumental weaving, setting up a complex chain of associations. Connecting various histories and objects in the matrix of a loom, Sanctuary opens a conversation between high and low, corporeal and insubstantial, secular and sacred.

About the artist
Josh Faught’s work explores conjunctions between various histories: the history of textiles, sociopolitical histories, and the artist’s personal history. Solo museum exhibitions include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and a site-specific installation at the Neptune Society Columbarium as part of the SFMOMA SECA Art Award Exhibition, both 2013. Faught is the recipient of the Betty Bowen Award at the Seattle Art Museum, 2009, and the 2011 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. He is an associate professor of textiles and fine arts at the California College of the Arts.

About Western Bridge
Founded in 2004 as an art exhibition space in Seattle’s Duwamish industrial district, Western Bridge has operated since 2012 as an itinerant art initiative, commissioning work by artists including Josh Faught, Allyson Vieira, and Rob Fischer.


*Josh Faught, Sanctuary, 2017. Hand-woven, hand-dyed cotton, hemp, and gold lamé; scrapbooking stickers; the entire 1999 season of the soap opera Passions (DVD); the sheet music for the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame”; the sheet music for Peter Hallock’s “A Song of Deliverance”; advertisements for The Monastery (The Sanctuary); issue six of Pot Pourri, a sexual questionnaire for the “new age”; an advertisement for The Date-Record; giant clothespins, nail polish, and pins; 540 x 78 inches. Photo: Mark Woods. Courtesy of the artist.

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Western Bridge
January 25, 2017

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