“Sen” Lisa Solomon’s current solo exhibition at Fouladi Projects strengthens her exploration into gender archetypes through historical analysis and hybridizations with a deeper connection to her own personal history. Solomon, who was born to a Japanese mother, blends unique interpretations of the motifs and designs commonly found within Japan’s traditionally feminine cultural arts and crafts for this new suite of works.
One of Lisa Solomon’s particular examinations into Japan’s cultural nuances is through their interest in number 1,000, or “Sen,” for which the exhibition is named. The artist blends this with her own interest in multiples and repetition. This is most notably played out through an impressively-executed installation of 1,000 doilies made from 100 assorted hues, hand crocheted by Solomon and over 45 women from around the world. ” I am intrinsically interested in pattern and repetitive behaviors,” explains Solomon, “and how recurring imagery can alter our view of something… re-framing and re-purposing it.” From each set of 10 doilies, strands of thread purposefully hang, which she says recalls the passage of time, and an emphasizes the work’s three-dimensional properties. Says Solomon, “I like leaving long threads as a tribute to the process. They often make me think of memory, of the passage of time… They will never lay exactly the same way… I also gravitate toward the dimensionality of them. They instantly pull a drawing off of the wall and force something flat into space.”
Overall small, visual, contemporary reinterpretations of Japanese material traditions and culture, the collection of delicate artworks in “Sen” also signify the artist’s signature, artistic approach of combining multiple mediums of drawing, needlework, and oils that may suggest an interest in working between spheres of folk and fine art, and joining traditionally gender-divided material and crafts. Solomon says of her process, “Mine are drawings that incorporate thread and wire, traditional painting materials, fabric and felt, walls, as well as paper and canvas… In this tenuous position my work is, in many senses of the phrase, ‘between states.'” In “Sen,” Solomon works upon a diaphanous but sturdy Duralar that expresses a feminine delicacy, yet is a strong foundation upon which ideas within multiple mediums can be expressed: the repetitious pierce of needlework, and creation of patterns through stamping, painting, and drawing.
The historical significances of these art objects that Solomon brings to the fore in “Sen” also illustrates how domestic crafts were perhaps a genesis of what is now known as a social art practice. From her inclusion of a community of 45 women to complete the installation, to her reinterpretation on the Senninbari, a Japanese fabric belt made by women, members of the community, and family to protect men at war, Solomon’s repositioning of Japan’s folk crafts into a form of fine art places her among a community now, and within a history of women and tradition: “I believe that by looking to the past for inspiration my own action of re-purposing these women’s time-honored techniques functions as the DNA of my own contemporary identity.” By activating the process of creation with practices of collaboration and cooperation, both in her ancestral past and today, Solomon passes on ideals and beliefs that will ensure a continuity and appreciation of these traditions and material culture.