Harper’s Books is pleased to announce Rose Garden, a solo exhibition of new work by Detroit-based artist Margo Wolowiec. Comprised of seven weavings affixed to linen, this is Wolowiec’s second presentation with the gallery, following her 2015 show in East Hampton. The exhibition will be on view at Harper’s Apartment from September 14 through October 26, 2017, during regular hours or by appointment.
Rose Garden represents Wolowiec’s ongoing interest in transfiguring digital images and text through the traditional handloom weaving process. Before interlacing her tapestries, the artist sources photographs from the Internet via hashtag and geotag metadata applications, and screengrabs media websites covering current political events. “Tagging” is a feature for anonymous social media users to name the type and location of files posted online. The high frequency of these categorized posts results in billions of spontaneous public archives for Wolowiec to mine. In this series, she confines herself to the theme of “#rosegarden,” deliberately collecting pictures uploaded under this moniker. After printing out and arranging her selections into checkered formations, she heat transfers the assemblages onto polymer yarn using a dye sublimation process. From there, the threads are handwoven and patched together on a wooden floor loom, forming compositions that both accentuate and distort her sampled material. Most of the text is rendered illegible, and the outlines of the images are attenuated, jagged, or warped. As a whole, each piece in Rose Garden appears as a highly-saturated and corrupted jpeg that has been incarnated into a tactile object.
Although it may seem as if Wolowiec is linking together disparate methods of craft—manual textile production and cybernetic image creation—the two practices actually share the same history in technical development. Early modes of computing technology began with a punched card system that controlled the Jacquard machine, a semi-automated loom engineered for textile manufacturing in the 19th century. Wolowiec’s reliance on digital algorithms for content remarkably follows a similar system, even with today’s advanced web-based software. Her engagement with historical continuities is further evident in the appropriation of roses as her central motif. A timeless symbol that has been subject to numerous transformations, the flower still retains significance today through its ubiquitous use and shareability.
By scrambling the sourced photographs and juxtaposing them with barely readable fragments of news articles, Wolowiec questions how new generations internalize existing cultural norms. Is she suggesting that the transmission of meaning has become degraded, losing its clarity and resonance with the endless bombardment of “breaking news” on social media? Or is she trying to secure the entwinement between old and new by laboriously weaving her subject matter into delicate physical objects? Rose Garden encourages its audience to reconsider how the trope of the rose is perceived in a moment inundated by information, excessive consumption, and the nonstop circulation of Internet culture.
Margo Wolowiec (b. 1985, Detroit, MI) holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the California College of the Arts. Her most recent solo shows have been at Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco (2017), Laura Bartlett in London (2016), and Anat Ebgi in LA (2016). Wolowiec has participated in numerous group exhibitions internationally, and her work is in the public collections of the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Kadist Art Foundation (San Francisco), and the Detroit Center for Photography (Detroit). She was a panelist for the “Material Concerns and Current Practices” series at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York (2017), organized by Alex Bacon. The artist is represented by Jessica Silverman Gallery, and lives and works in Detroit, MI.