Two new exhibits featuring textiles, mixed media and handmade paper garments will be on display at the University of Montana Gallery of Visual Arts. Erica Spitzer Rasmussen’s “Second Skins” and Maggy Rozycki Hiltner’s “Familiar Faces” will be on display March 14 through April 19 in the gallery, located on the first floor of the Social Science Building.
Both artists will present lectures on their work, sponsored by the UM School of Art Jim and Jane Dew Visiting Artist Fund, at 5:10 p.m. Thursday, March 14, in Social Science Building Room 356. A reception for the artists will follow from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the gallery. All events and exhibitions are free and open to the public.
“Second Skins” explores issues of identity and corporeality, often using clothing as a metaphor for one’s skin. Rasmussen creates mixed media and paper garments inspired by childhood myths or adult anxieties regarding her body.
“They can encompass narrative qualities, illustrate and dissolve bodily fears or act as talismanic devices,” she said.
She also uses ephemeral materials such as dog hair, dried fish scales, spent tea bags or sausage casings. Conceptually, the use of these materials speaks about the nature of transition while expressing something personal, meaningful and beautiful.
Rasmussen’s work has been featured in publications including FIBERARTS, Surface Design Journal, Hand Papermaking, Craft Arts International and American Craft. She teaches studio arts as an associate professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. Her sculptural and wearable works are exhibited internationally.
In “Familiar Faces,” Hiltner repurposes found textiles that are cut apart and reassembled with detailed stitching to create narratives often based on personal childhood memories. At first glance, there is a sweet, nostalgic aspect to her playful and humorous work. However, upon closer inspection there is a menacing quality to her characters that speaks about childhood, gender, sex and nature.
“Sometimes it’s malicious undertone to the relationships, or lack of self-control on the part of the characters, or maybe an otherworldliness hidden in the everyday,” Hiltner said. “I like how this subtext works against the comfortable and innocuous medium of fabric and stitching.”
Hiltner lives in Red Lodge and owns the Red Lodge Clay Center with her husband. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., and has been written about in books and catalogs about textile arts.
The Gallery of Visual Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. Mondays are available by appointment only.
More information about the UM School of Art and the gallery is available online at http://www.umt.edu/art.