Ilze Aviks

My current work explores the politics of mark-making in contemporary art. Stitching and flower collage counters received views about art. What is valid medium? Valid subject matter? Who is the maker? So-called “women’s work,” the medium of textiles, represents an alternative history and practice. The physical nature of the stitched mark, or an applied rose petal, reminds the viewer of a kind of activity and maker marginalized in traditional art histories.

I emphasize the haptic qualities of textiles, rather than the descriptive. These cloths are not stretched or framed, but allowed to behave as cloth: to hang loosely and yield to gravity. Like many artists, I consider limits valuable. For many years I have used the “seed stitch,” a traditional background stitch found in colonial America and Elizabethan England. This random stitched mark is repeated thousands of times and is the embodiment of time, perseverance, and female anonymity. The relative limitation of stitch length and thread thickness precludes spontaneity in a “fine art” context. But the less visceral, less overtly personal, mark provides a pulse to the surface of the cloth and challenges the notion of personal style. The more active painted gesture is allowed to insinuate itself from beneath the stitched marks. Dots and checks are chosen as archetypes of fabric design.

My work on paper, comprised of rose petals and digital printing, reference traditional views of art-making. By collecting and pressing flowers, and assembling collages I am revisiting boundaries imposed on women artists. I am exploring the dichotomy between nature and “man-made:” correcting, and improving the damaged, misshapen, and unyielding petals is a metaphor for our desire for perfection and beauty.